Don't be late, as I was, to this party.

WALL-E

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


 

            Don’t be late, as I was, to this party. “WALL–E” isn’t just a clever animation; it is a beautiful leap of the human imagination. The Pixar animators have made a movie that is both provocative and touching; and they have done it with a minimum of dialogue that gives the movie an expansive global appeal.

            WALL-E himself, introduced in the first scene by writer/director Andrew Stanton, takes all of a minute or so to win our hearts. How can the animators pack so much expression into a mini trash compactor of a guy with two tin cans for his big round eyes – possibly the most expressive eyes you will ever see? We needn’t understand how they did it. It’s there, and it’s wonderful.

            WALL–E lives and works in a landscape of the garbage that forced the human race to emigrate from our globe 700 years ago. With marvelous moves, he scoops up and compacts the human detritus of centuries and piles the mashed cubes carefully into the form of tall buildings – uninhabited skyscrapers, monuments to folly and ruin. The little guy returns each night to a big compactor truck where he sleeps on a lower shelf that rocks him to sleep amongst his collection of human discards. In a world with no calendar, WALL–E works with human resourcefulness to clean up the garbage that finally inundated earth.

            He is fond of watching an old TV tape of a movie musical that plants the possibility of loneliness and love just in time for the arrival Eve, a pure white robot with flittering almond eyes and a twirling laser six gun embedded in her arm. If WALL–E is a rusting chunk of machinery, Eve is utterly simple in appearance, smooth and without the busy legs that keep us humans from being sleek. She is a beautiful bumbler while WALL-E is delicate and sophisticated. When he hitches a ride back to her space station, he discovers the civilization humans built when they left. Moving on a cushion of air, the robots serve the humans who lie on air chairs, rarely moving and growing hugely fat from inactivity. They roll through an exerciseless virtual world ingesting food through straws and cups that look suspiciously like legacy from McDonalds.

            The implied question is “Are we moving toward a regimented future where technology will rob us both of work and of free will? Though you’ll think hard in this movie, it’s the little guy who will stay with you. Sitting on a ledge with his tractor treads hanging over the edge, he is a little kid. Hearing a roar, he shuts himself up into the cube he is like a turtle. With his extraordinary eyes, hands, feet, and the tilt of his head, he is as magical as Fred Astaire. And when finally he and Eve dance in the sky and manage a tentative holding of hands, we realize WALL–E has brought love to the future.

 


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