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Year of release
2008

Directed by
Andrew Stanton

Written by
Andrew Stanton
Pete Docter

Starring
Ben Burtt
Elissa Knight
Jeff Garlin
Fred Willard


WALL·E


Plot - In the distant future mankind has abandoned the Earth after it became an unsustainable place to live. Covered in trash as a result of mass consumerism, the only being still residing on Earth is WALL-E, a garbage collecting robot left to clean up the mess. Despite being all alone WALL-E still finds joys in his life, such as collecting trinkets from Earth's past or watching a tape of Hello Dolly! One day however another robot lands on the planet, a reconnaisance robot named EVE who is in search of proof that life on Earth is once again sustainable. Immediately smitten with her, WALL-E sets out to win her affections. And together they go on an incredible journey which will take them to the stars and to the new home of humanity, a mammoth spaceship named Axiom.

38:05. According to the read-out on my DVD player that is how long WALL-E runs for before the first human character is properly introduced. Up until that point WALL-E is an almost exclusively silent film. And those 38 minutes and 5 seconds may by the most magical and perfect 38 minutes and 5 seconds of cinema that I have ever had the privilege of experiencing. It is a thrilling experience. After that the film may resort to a more traditional story and method for telling that story, but it's still a wonderful piece of film-making. In those 38 minutes, despite nary a word being spoken, the film is able to convey the story, establish a truly delightful and lovable character who steals our hearts and create one of the most touching and heartfelt romances I've ever witnessed on the screen. The way it does this is through smart storytelling, astounding animation and some pitch-perfect sound design.

More than any other film they've yet made, WALL-E gives Pixar the chance to truly show off their incredible genius with a number of stunning visuals and touches which illuminate the story, create this world, make us laugh and makes us truly care for this little robot. WALL-E really is a wonderful creation, a little being that I find impossible not to love. I was going to say that I fell in love with the character of WALL-E within the first two minutes of this film, but that would be a lie. I had pretty much fallen in love with that delightful robot before I even made it into the cinema. As soon as I saw the first trailer and caught my first glimpse of WALL-E's little face I was smitten. I just think that he and the film as a whole are adorable.

Despite their almost complete lack of dialogue and the fact that they are two robots in an animated movie, I find the relationship between Wall-e and Eve to be one of the most beautiful and touching romances I've ever seen on screen. In fact is it going too far to ask the question; WALL-E and Eve - the romance of a generation? With the action almost completely bereft of dialogue, it all comes down to little looks and gestures (holding hands, putting up an umbrella) and it is irresistibly sweet. His attempts at wooing Eve are utterly endearing, particularly his attempts at impressing her with the various trinkets that populate his trailer. And the fire extinguisher-aided flight/dance through space is just spellbinding. While the rare words and sounds that they do share are wonderfully judged and orchestrated by Ben Burtt and Elissa Knight respectively. Oh and the moment where it seems like WALL-E has lost his personality and lost Eve is a truly heartbreaking one which almost had me blubbering like a baby in the cinema the first time I saw it.

Film Trivia Snippets - To try and create the visual aesthetic for the scenes set on Earth, the concept artists studied images of Chernobyl, Ukraine and the city of Sofia in Bulgaria. They did so in an attempt to generate ideas for the ruined world that the Earth had become in WALL-E. Art director Anthony Christov actually hails from Bulgaria and knew only too well the problems that Sofia had in terms of storing its garbage. /// For the typical Pixar film, the average number of storyboards would be 75,000. For WALL-E however a mind-boggling 125,000 storyboards were created. /// WALL-E holds Pixar's personal record for Academy Award nominations with 6. This ties it with the only other animated film to receive so many nominations; Beauty and the Beast.
Part of the reason that WALL-E is so irresistible is that despite being a robotic machine, he really is very human in his behaviour. He is a clumsy, shy and nervous little fella who like so many of us has this grand, pure idea of love that has been developed by watching the output of Hollywood. He's even a bit of a packrat as evidenced by his trailer of knick-knacks. The scenes of him searching through the trash to find items that intrigue him are very sweet. He is able to express more emotion than any actor ever could merely through the slightest of movement, such as tilting his eyes. He has a real personality to him. This is also true of Eve. I love the moments where you see her being entertained and touched by WALL-E's actions, expressed through her eyes or her charming laugh. She also has quite a temper on her, as seen by her frustration at the lack of plant life in her search.

The visuals that Pixar were able to create for this film are probably the best I've ever seen. That opening stretch on Earth in particular is astonishing. At times the landscape and the close-ups of WALL-E are almost photo-real in their execution. While the scope and ambition of the film calls on the animators to create not one, but two intricate and detailed worlds. And they couldn't really be more disparate worlds at that. Earth is a desolate, scarred and grimy vista where we feel like we are almost choking on the dust that covers the place. While when the action moves onto the Axium spaceship it is a more traditional aesthetic for a computer animated film; bright, colourful and dynamic. In fact I just realised I'm doing the film a disservice as there are really three separate worlds. I was forgetting about the stretch that bridges these two worlds; the gorgeous and majestic scenes of outer space and the solar systrem. The moment where WALL-E travels on the back of the rocket as it heads towards the spaceship is a magical moment. Just one of many that this film has to offer the viewer.

Film Trivia Snippets - The design for Eve is very slick and modern when compared to WALL-E, very much in line with current technology. As a result it comes as no surprise that she was actually co-designed by Apple's Senior Vice President of Industrial Design Jonnathan Ive, the man responsible for the design of the iPod. /// To try and capture the sensibilities of classic silent films, Andrew Stanton and the Pixar team watched every single Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton movie (short films and full-length features) during lunch for about a year and a half. They wanted to inspire the possibilities of purely visual storytelling.
In amongst all the romance and the laughs the film does also have a few big messages at its core. Messages of conservation and our detrimental impact on the environment; messages of consumerism, large corporations and how our life can pass us by if we get lost in technology. I'm aware that some people felt overwhelmed by the messages, as if they were being forced down their throat. I however felt that Pixar found the perfect balance. They give the issues enough depth that they add to the film, but without suffocating the film's sense of fun. And while I understand some people may find the film just a tad hypocritical with its messages, considering the amount of merchandising the film spawned (consumerism) and that Pixar films have become the ideal babysitters for numerous parents (the abundance of technology in our lives), it's not something I feel the need to really comment on.

The film's end credits are just one final slice of brilliance; the icing on top of the already stunning cake. They show the further continuation of the story; of the reintegration of humanity on Earth, through a series of paintings and sketches which themselves mirror the evolution of mankind and the arts. Beginning with cave paintings and taking in styles as diverse as Egyptian hieroglyphics, pointilism and 8 bit computer art; with special attention given to Vincent Van Gogh, the sequence engulfs the stone age all the way through to the computer age. If you were looking for just one example of why Pixar are so highly regarded in the landscape of cinema this would be a prime candidate. It just shows them going that extra mile, creating something that isn't necessary and is all the more wonderful for it. It is a fine piece of art in its own right. I would have to say they are probably the most creative and inspired closing credits I have ever come across. And while I'm aware that there is no category for end credits at the Academy Awards, they should have made an exception and presented those responsible with an Oscar for their incredible contribution.

And lastly here are a few more random thoughts about this magnificent film. WALL-E has got to feature one of my most favourite ever minor characters in the little cleaning robot, Mo. His feud with Wall-e, his OCD personality and the vocal contribution of Ben Burtt once again make him a delightful addition to the film. The film's score, provided by Thomas Newman, is an enchanting creation. Occasionally evoking a sort of fairy tale vibe it hits numerous tones with songs that are beautiful, songs that are exciting, songs that are very touching and songs that are just downright fun. And finally as a little accompaniment to the film was the delightful short film, Presto. Pixar have delivered many wonderful shorts but this has to be my favourite. It may not be as deep as some of their other shorts, or have a message at its foundation, but man is it funny. It recalls a classic Looney Tunes short with its wild and slapstick nature, giving it a nostalgic feel. It is just teeming with imagination and humour.

Conclusion - I'm aware that no matter the film, I know it's impossible for every single person to love a film. However I have a hard time believing that anyone could possibly take an active dislike to WALL-E. And if I were ever to meet such a person I don't think I would be able to trust them! It's a funny, touching, enthralling film. A true Pixar masterpiece.