WALL-E

wall-e

Overall Impression – Why I wasn’t more impressed with this when I first saw it, I don’t know.  But now, having seen it again on Blu-ray…WOW!

THE FOUR QUESTIONS

Who is your main character? – WALL-E

What is he trying to accomplish? – Professional: Clean up earth so that people can repopulate it. Personal: Rescue EVE. Private: Get  EVE to love him.

Who’s trying to stop him? – AUTO, the auto-pilot on the space cruiser.

What happens if he fails? – Earth doesn’t get repopulated, Eve is destroyed, the humans lead useless lives, and he never finds love.

THE FOUR ARCHETYPES

Orphan – WALL-E is all alone on earth, 700 years after everyone has left.  It appears that the only creature left beside him is a single cockroach.

Wanderer – After EVE arrives, WALL-E tries to figure out how to win her trust.  They bond, but almost immediately she goes into sleep mode after she discovers the single plant WALL-E has found.  He tries to wake her up, stays by her side, and eventually tags along with the space probe that recovers her.

Warrior – WALL-E now fights to stay with EVE and wake her up.  When she reboots after the plant is recovered from her storage compartment, WALL-E and EVE fight to keep each other safe and to thwart the plans of AUTO who seems intent on keeping the ship from returning home.

Martyr – WALL-E literally destroys himself trying to keep a chamber open that will accept the plant and start the journey back to earth.  And this is only one of the martyr moments.  Eve is willing to give up her directive to save WALL-E, the ship’s Captain gives up his life of being pampered like a baby to do the right thing, even the secondary robot character sacrifice in order to get the ship back to Earth.

AND, IN THE END…

I remember sitting in the theater watching TOY STORY when it came out and hoping that it would never end.  It was, and still is, the perfect story.  Expectations on subsequent Pixar movies thus ran very high.  Sometimes they were met (FINDING NEMO, THE INCREDIBLES) and sometimes they weren’t (CARS, BUG’S LIFE).  But even when I was disappointed, it was only relative to how high Mr. Lasseter and crew set the bar.

WALL-E was heralded as some amazing, transcendent movie.  Something for adults much more than for kids.  I remember seeing it with my kids who were mildly bored throughout large parts of the movie.  Between their fidgeting and my high expectations, poor WALL-E never stood a chance.  And then I saw it again a few days ago.

It’s a brilliant movie on a number of levels, but the one to focus on is the opposition to WALL-E’s goals.   If his goal is to get EVE to love him, the lesser way to challenge him would be for there to be another robot, all shiny and glittery, trying to woo her.  There isn’t.

If his goal is to get the people back to earth, the lesser way would be for there to be some mission or directive that needs the people OFF of earth, such as the creating the conceit that the robots running the ship need the humans to generate energy to power themselves as in THE MATRIX.  There isn’t.

There are no stock villains or stock villainy.  The opposition to WALL-E’s desire line isnot only reasonable but intense.  An important principle is that the antagonist is the hero of his or her own story.  In WALL-E there are no bad guys, only various beings — human and robot — doing what they believe they need to do, all anchored by one little robot named WALL-E doing what he needs to do.  Love someone and be loved in return.

— Jeffrey Alan Schechter

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One Response to “WALL-E”

  1. Andrew March 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm #

    WALL-E is awesome. And when I say that, I mean the film and the Character. The first half of the film has no dialogue apart from WALL-E going “whoa!” and what not and just involves him interacting with whatever he can find. It’s so endearing.

    And the scene where EVE and WALL-E dance in space, she using modern technolgy to rocket herself around and him using a Fire Extinguisher to propel himself around… Not only is it beautifully choriagraphed, but very cute too.

    While no-where near as lovable as the other robots, I do like “Not Really a villian” AUTO. Nice homage to HAL 9000 he is.

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