From Clockworks2
Jump to navigationJump to search

WALL-E. Andrew Stanton, dir., script, with Jim Capobianco ("titles" [sic]). Ralph Eggleston et al., production design. USA: Pixar/Walt Disney (prod.) Buena Vista and Walt Disney (dist.), 2008.

SF animation.

As in the SHORT CIRCUIT films, q.v., the star is a cute, male-gendered robot, but here without much competition from humans and with a strange love of HELLO, DOLLY (1969). As Kenneth Turnan explains in a rave review in The L.A. Times, WALL-E's name "is an acronym for Waste Allocation Load Lifter -- Earth Class[…, meaning] that WALL-E is a robotic trash compactor who has been quietly doing his job attacking Earth's endless mountains of refuse for 700 years. Unless you count his pal, a nameless but convivial roach, WALL-E is the only thing still moving on the entire planet"[1].

A survey ship arrives and WALL-E gets a robotic love-interest, a beautiful and thoroughly modern probe named "Eve," whom WALL-E woos, although we get with him only a few more hints at human language use than we get with R2-D2 in the STAR WARS movies. Since the privileged goal in the film is returning humans to Earth, the antagonist is the main character blocking that goal: a mutinous autopilot on an ark-ship called Axiom, with HAL-9000's red and yellow eye from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (film) (WALL-E is a trove of allusions). The autopilot and his (male gender again, not sex) robotic minions try to keep the remnants of the human species obese, obedient, and contented—and safe—on the Axiom, so these robots are comparable to J. Williamson's Humanoids. Note also a highly funkified, pomo Earth, with Industrial imagery, contrasted with the even more sterile Modernism of the Axiom. For those of us who refer to the Disney operation as "The Rat," this is a surprisingly good movie (well-received by critics and audiences), with solid satire against consumerism and environmental irresponsibility and brilliant use of Pixar technology to create a ravaged future Earth as an industrial wasteland-as-garbage-dump. (On the other hand, a colleague points out "by making the aud[ience] feel good about our heightened environmental awareness and our fresh anti-consumerist leanings […] 'The Rat' [might be] trying to keep the [...] human species obese, obedient and buying every kind of Wall-E consumer product they can crank out, of which the packaging will soon be overflowing a landfill near you. Rat or Humanoid? Either way, fiendishly brilliant.")

For images, see here.[2].

Reviewed approvingly and insightfully by Jason W. Ellis in SFRA Review #285 (Spring 2008): pp. 35-36.[3] Ellis notes,

The obvious allegorical message from the film has to do with ecodisaster, which interconnects with other SF themes. This binding theme corresponds with Leo Marx’s work, The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America (1968), which predates the earliest SF film inspirations for WALL-E by one year. Marx’s thesis is that the American pastoral uses technology as a means to return to the idyllic garden — an Eden in the Americas. However, the more technology is utilized, the further removed we become from the dreamed and sought ideal.

WALL-E figures into this pattern because it is the little robot WALL-E and his robot girlfriend, appropriately named EVE, who challenge Marx’s argument by leading humanity back to the Earth/soil/garden and a more organic, yet technologically cooperative lifestyle — the techno-co-op. The film reinforces this idea through EVE’s directive to seek out green plant life and to place that life into what can only be described as a womb. Once the organic matter is stored within her body, she withdraws into herself, with only a softly glowing green plant icon pulsing as a heartbeat underneath her iPod-like exterior, awaiting return to the “mothership,” the AXIOM. Returned and reawakened, WALL-E and EVE battle against the Buy-n-Large capital enforcers, AUTO and GO-4, to activate the AXIOM’s automatic Earth-return system by giving the plant EVE carried in her womb from Earth to the ship’s holodetector. Successful, WALL-E and EVE reveal that robots may be more human than human in the far future, and in so doing, they arrive at more equal gendered identities, which invert currently accepted gender roles of male/female and protector/protected. Furthermore, these robots mediate the reawakening of humanity’s connection with the Earth through their own burgeoning love [...]. (Ellis p. 35)

See especially for the Garden in the Machine image with Eve containing the plant.

A sophisticated but accessible discussion of SF elements — including allusions — is provided among his "Comments on Culture" by M. Keith Booker at the link here, at Note, as of 14 March 2022.[4]

RDE, JK, 27/VI/08; RDE, finishing, 15Jan21, 14MAR22