#62: WALL-E (2008)

When and how did I watch this?

January 3rd, 2016, on Amazon Instant Video.

Had I seen this film already?

I thought I hadn’t, but upon viewing, I recalled most of it.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

It’s a Pixar film, but not like the rest.  It has a dark theme resting in it: the potential fate of humanity.  And it’s not pretty. My wife saw this first, and while people in the theater were laughing and awwing, she felt sick to her stomach.  I felt similar upon viewing.

What do I know about it now?

The biggest praise I have for Pixar’s films is their ability to make pretty much anything anthromorphic, and then still managing to make the story human and generate emotions, while cleverly giving these creatures/items abilities unique to their makeup.  WALL-E does this as well, but throughout the film, there’s a brooding reality that there’s something terribly wrong.  We’re presented with a situation that’s already hopeless and very unfunny.  Earth is abandoned for an eternal pleasure cruise.  People are fat, die young, have no physical contact with one another, don’t use their teeth (or any useful body parts, really), and their knowledge is limited to what they’re fed on a screen.  Sound familiar? Yet here’s WALL-E, an older model robot with a heart, who almost accidentally saves the world, walks off of the established lines, encourages interaction, and falls in love. No person is falling in love in this story — just him (we assume — he takes on the male role by emulating a scene from Hello Dolly). It’s the same scene over and over, on a VHS tape, perhaps the last footage of anything left on the planet. He romanticizes it; he feels it.  He sees beauty.  And then, as we progress through the story, we remember the beauty we’ve forgotten ourselves. Captain McCrea, the only man making any real decisions — although even much of what he “does” is automated — stumbles upon archived footage of the earth, now long forgotten by its former denizens, and begins to fall in love with it too. Now we’ve transcended people and plot.  The film becomes about ideas and possibilities, the kind that we long for but put off and fail to achieve out of laziness or apathy or failure. WALL-E seems to be a hero because he is determined, not because he’s something special. For me, this is the best part.  Technically speaking, the film is a gem.  The animation and detail is far above other Pixar films, the score does what it’s supposed to, and the cinematography is outstanding; one of the portions that was memorable to me was when WALL-E is chasing EVE, who is being picked up after finding vegetation, from across a landscape of refuge. In a short time, the “camera” refocuses, shifts, pans, zooms, and then takes on a bumpy first-person perspective.  It’s tremendously dramatic, and it’s not even real.

What are some themes in the film?

Love/romance, conservation/consumerism, perseverance, apathy

Did this affect me personally?

The recurring Hello, Dolly sequences and the gradual build into a crescendo of a scene moved me to near tears.  The haunting reality of a possible future troubled me as well.

Why is this ranked #62?

This is the highest rated Pixar film on the IMDb Top 250.  It looks and feels different from the rest; I presume reviewers have noticed this as well.  It’s not a feel-good favorite like Toy Story or Monsters, Inc., so it’s somewhat surprising it made it this high..

Did my wife watch/like it?

She watched most of it with me.  She still doesn’t like it much.

Would I watch it again?

Although it’s probably my favorite Pixar film, it might be the least likely one I’d watch again or own.  The full effect is lost with frequent intervals, I would guess.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

It’s the most important Pixar film on the list, as well as the best produced.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

This might shock people, but I think this is one of the best films ever made.  It does everything it’s supposed to, has numerous “moments”, and manages to make us remember ourselves and our legacy as humanity using CGI and a naive and clumsy robot. Perhaps it’s a little bit touchy feely at times, but there’s nothing wrong with sentimentality as long as it has a grip reality.  And this film is very real.

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