WALL*E: Out of this World

As humans, we have the ability to fathom, to dream and to inspire others.  As Storytellers, we can share ideas and challenge convention.  I have always said that those who make an impact in business – and really, any aspect of life – are those who dare to see things differently.

Twenty years ago, mass communication had a completely different definition than it does today.  Today, we are always-on, hands-free, blue-toothed and connected to one another globally like never before.

Today, an inspired leader can share  “An Inconvenient Truth” and build awareness for our footprint on the planet.

Today, a cartoon can illustrate a future world and remind us of what is important about being alive.

And that is why I love director Andrew Stanton’s latest Pixar gem, the fantastical story of WALL*E.

Pixar is one of the greatest movie studios of all time.

Founded by George Lucas and Steve Jobs in the 1980s, Pixar certainly has the pedigree for breakthrough innovation and inspired storytelling.

TOY STORY (1995) changed the way the world viewed feature length animation.

…and when I saw FINDING NEMO in 2003, I remember saying that the script was the best script – animated or live action – of that year.  Further to that, it was one of the most exquisite cinema experiences I had ever had.  Beautifully illustrated and scored, it was moving art that transcended beyond entertainment…escapism at its best.

Pixar is undeniably a pioneering force in the film industry and popular culture.

Several months ago, I published a post that discussed the use of the music from Terry Gilliam’s sci-fi classic, BRAZIL, in the promotional trailer for Pixar’s latest film, WALL*E.   Knowing the basic premise of the film, I was very impressed that PIXAR made the decision to give a musical nod to the Gilliam cult classic –  a complex, absurd world run by a totalitarian, largely dysfunctional industrial world where there is resistance to challenging the “system.”

WALL*E, recalls in equal measure Hollywood’s most evocative – and often eerily accurate future visions–Blade Runner, Brazil, Star Trek, E.T. and 2001–and the silent intimacies of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.  While it is light on dialogue, it is a complex story about love and loneliness, perseverance and triumph, the possibilities and pitfalls of human existence.

The fact that it is told by way of the exploits of a mostly non-verbal trash compacting robot only make it that much more extraordinary.

Andrew Stanton on WALL*E:

“I’m not naive about what’s at stake. But I almost feel like it’s an obligation to not further the status quo if you become somebody with influence and exposure. I don’t want to paint the same painting again. I don’t want to make the same sculpture again. Why shouldn’t a big movie studio be able to make those small independent kinds of pictures? Why not change it up?

I was writing WALL*E so long ago, how could I have known what’s going on now? As it was getting finished, the environment talk started to freak me out. I don’t have much of a political bent, and the last thing I want to do is preach. I just went with things that I felt were logical for a possible future and supported the point of my story, which was the premise that irrational love defeats life’s programming, and that the most robotic beings I’ve met are us.”

I have heard many people say that this is not a film for children – but I must disagree.  Is it mindless entertainment you can park your kids in front of?  NO.  But thatis precisely one of the more poignant messages of this truly INCREDIBLE film.

Many people have started to dissect the film from a political, philosophical, theological or ecological perspective.  Here is a great, objective post that I found last night as I was surfing the Blogosphere:  WALL*E Analysis.

I have also seen many negative posts about the film – saying that it has a “environmentalist agenda.”   While I won’t completely disagree (and find opposition to protecting the environment ludicrous), this film isn’t about saving the earth.  It is about saving humanity.

I encourage each of YOU to see it, think about it for yourselves, write about it and share your thoughts with others.

Especially your kids.

Oh yes, and download the song from the end credits, “Down to Earth” by Peter Gabriel.


For those of you who enjoy the “behind the scenes” factoids, here are some interesting facts that I found interesting (courtesy of IMDB).

The teaser trailer contains part of Michael Kamen’s score for Brazil. Michael Kamen was going to score another Pixar film, The Incredibles, but died before he could.

The main character’s name is actually an acronym, standing for “Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth-class.” EVE stands for “Extraterrestial Vegetation Evaluator” and M-O stands for “Microbe Obliterator.”

Most of the predominantly robot cast of characters is voiced by Ben Burtt through mechanical sounds of his creation.

First instance of a Pixar feature-length film using live-action.

The film contains numerous references to Apple computers:

  • When WALL*E is fully charged by the sun, he makes the same “boot up” sound that most of Apple’s Macintosh computers have made since circa 1996.
  • WALL*E watches his favorite movie every night on the screen of an iPod
  • The villainous Autopilot’s voice is provided by Apple’s text-to-speech system, MacinTalk
  • EVE’s sleek design as an evolution of WALL*E’s parallels the sleek iMac design having evolved from the boxy, beige Apple IIe.
  • Steve Jobs, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Apple Computer, was CEO of Pixar until its acquisition by Disney in 2005, and as a shareholder and member of the Disney Board of Directors is still actively involved with the company

The logo on Eve’s chest that appears after she obtains the plant is the same logo used by Disney Epcot’s The Land pavilion up until 2005.

WALL*E collects numerous objects from the 1960s-1980’s including a VCR tape of Hello, Dolly! (featured prominently in the film), a Rubik’s cube, and even an Atari 2600 with the game Pong. Despite the film taking place over 800 years after these objects were created, all the objects are still in working condition.

The last piece of debris that clears away from WALL*E as he leaves Earth’s atmosphere is the Russian satellite Sputnik I, which in 1957 was the first man-made object to be placed in earth orbit.

This is the first Disney/Pixar movie not to open with the Pixar-animated castle logo.

The protocol that AUTO is programmed to follow is A113, a reference to the animation room at the California Institute of the Arts, where many of the Pixar animators studied.

The end credit montage not only contains artwork in the style of many ancient cultures, but also mimics specific artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Georges Seurat, and Auguste Renoir.

Director Andrew Stanton explained why he used excerpts from Hello, Dolly! in an interview: “When I got to ‘Hello, Dolly!’ and I played ‘Put on Your Sunday Clothes,’ and that first phrase ‘Out there…’ came out, it just fit musically… I finally realized, ‘You know what, this song is about two guys that are just so naïve, they’ve never left a small town, and they just wanna go out in the big city for one night and kiss a girl. That’s my main character.’

And then my co-writer, ‘Jim Reardon’ , said, ‘You know what, he could actually discover an old tape in the trash, and that’s how he got inspired by it, and it’s a great way to show that he’s got a romantic slant.’ So we started looking at the movie, and when I found the other song, ‘It Only Takes a Moment,’ and saw the two lovers holding hands, I realized, ‘That’s a perfect way for my main character to express the phrase ‘I love you’ without being able to say it.'”

The name of the ship that the humans are living on is “Axiom.” In logic and math, an axiom is something unquestionable or taken for granted.

~ by Calliope on July 12, 2008.

One Response to “WALL*E: Out of this World”

  1. I asked you in an email if you liked WallE. I hadn’t read the blog then. I guess you did! I am anxious to see it now. It will really fit with our theme this year about the future. Maybe I will just buy it for school. What is it rated? I can only buy “G” movies for school.
    Great and interesting review.

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