By Sonam Kaloti, Arts Editor
In this column I review movies that are hugely popular in the Western world—ones which I haven’t seen before. This is a fresh and unbiased take on those classic films, without the rose-coloured glasses of childhood nostalgia influencing my perspective.
“Four out of five!” you yell angrily at the newspaper in your hand. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. “But—but—WALL-E is so cute! The movie is so good! It’s totally a five!” I hear you pal, but I disagree. Hear me out.
If you don’t know the film WALL-E, for whatever reason (maybe we’re the same person), then here’s a quick rundown. Little robot, WALL-E, is the only robot left on Earth. Originally built in hopes of cleaning up the dystopian planet yet is left for 700 years after humans learn that the planet is no longer habitable. He falls in love with EVE, another robot from the “Axiom,” a large spaceship that the rest of the humans are on. EVE’s mission is to search for any indicator that Earth is habitable once again.
It’s a children’s movie so it’s a bit hard to pick apart and denounce, because any issues I have with the movie can be brushed off since it’s made for kids anyway. It’s easier to analyze if we don’t look at the film as simply a kid’s movie, and instead look at the commentary in the film—one which analyzes and criticizes society in a way that is extremely relevant… perhaps more so now than when the movie came out in 2008.
Starting with what really impressed me, the film portrayed emotion incredibly. The two main characters have no dialogue past saying each other’s names, and even then, WALL-E incorrectly calls EVE “Eva.” Yet, even then there is a lot of great story progression between these two. Their process of falling in love was shown through actions instead of words, which is romantic! They constantly fought for each other, and though they didn’t always agree with the others’ actions or beliefs, they never forcefully tried to stop one another from fighting for what they believe in. Weird how robots can have such healthy relationships.
I do, however, think this romance storyline took priority in way more of the movie than it needed to. Sure, they’re cute, but there’s no hiding that the real focus of the story of WALL-E was about the humans—which is a typical narcissistic human thing to say. There isn’t as much of a delving into the mechanics of this world as there should be.
The Axiom contains all the humans to have had survived thus far. They don’t walk at all. They move around in hovering lounge chairs and communicate with other people through hologram screens… never once communicating with the world outside arm’s reach. They only have meals in drink form and only wear colours that are announced to be trendy on the PA system. It’s terrifying and yet, a pretty accurate representation of how we live right now and may possibly become more literal in the future. Consumed by the allure of the laziness of automation, this post-apocalyptic world defines what humans would be worth if they could always live in a hedonistic state.
As the robots on the Axiom put it: the humans are able to survive on the Axiom, and it is inferred that they could do so forever. However, the Captain of the ship replies to this sentiment, saying “I don’t want to survive! I want to live!”
That single sentence wraps up a big fear shared by humans—we never want to be worthless. We want our lives to mean something. WALL-E was uncomfortable to watch because, honestly, the humans didn’t even do a whole lot to save themselves from their lifestyle. None of them paused their lounge chair entertainment for a second to ask if there was anything more possible for their lives. The captain only really started fighting to go to Earth after the robots were already fighting for him. So, is WALL-E even a happy story?
I think, despite the happy conclusion, the ending could not have been achieved hadn’t it been for the very nice robots. It is an eerily pessimistic film. If our society ever becomes the world displayed in WALL-E, and there were no nice robots around, the negative view of human morality and ambition portrayed in WALL-E suggests there may not be such a happy ending. I don’t hate that the movie conveys that, however. If anything, Pixar film WALL-E serves as a warning—one needed much more now than ever before.