I’ve just seen a wonderful film and it’s called ‘Wall-E’.
I’m not one for gushing over films, years at university has caged my ability to enthuse unashamedly over anything...However, Wall-E has taught me to love again.
Wall-E is this sweet little trash-compacting robot with the mannerisms of Mr. Bean and the heart of a hopeless romantic. Sounds revolting, I know.
Wall-E lives in America of the future. And the future is bleak. Seven hundred years ago humans raped and pillaged earth’s resources so the planet became a desolate dirt ball, bursting with garbage and devoid of life. Having destroyed the planet completely, humans boarded spaceships and abandoned earth to a new life in the sky. Meanwhile, robots remained on earth with the task to ‘clean up’ so that eventually the humans could return. Unfortunately, over the centuries the robots all broke-down. All expect for one… Will Smith. Ahem, I mean Wall-E.
Unlike most recent post-apocalyptic films (I am Legend, Children of Men, Twenty-Eight Days Later) that blame earth’s demise on random acts of fate: viruses, genetic defects, aliens, 'Wall-E' takes the more realistic view and considers a world destroyed by humans. 'Wall-E' steps beyond the global-warming debate to focus on the compelling simple issue of earth’s limited resources pitted against civilization’s limitless ability to consume. It is a bleak, yet brave, look at the future. And it’s a kid’s film!
The first-half hour of the film is dedicated to painting a picture of this world-gone-mad as seen through the lonely eyes of Wall-E. Wall-E spends each day diligently compacting-trash, despite the overwhelming landscape of garbage that surrounds him. Wall-E follows his programming and, without any sense of valor, continues to try and save the planet. After all, he is just a robot. Although, somewhere over the past centuries Wall-E has developed a glitch in his system and begun to empathize with the culture he is cleaning up after. He collects objects he finds pretty and, in an act of social-mimicry, makes friends with a cockroach. In this miserable setting, Wall-E’s small attempts to emulate human traits are profound against the viewer’s knowledge of all things lost. I was really quite moved.
The second half of the film is set on humanity-starship, where everyone has been taking it easy for the past seven centuries. Very, very easy. In this hilarious vision of what will happen to people if they remain apathetic to the world around them, humans are depicted as obese lumps that move around in hover-chairs while consuming mindless entertainment through screens attached to their faces.
I laughed and laughed when I first saw these creatures on the screen. I then noticed I was laughing much harder than any one else in the cinema. Upon some reflection I have to admit I found the idea of humans literally turning into passive blobs so funny because it took the stereotype of the ‘fat-dumb-American’ to a bizarre, yet vaguely rational, new level. I’ve rejected this stereo-type for a long time. When in Australia it always used irritate me to hear throw-away comments about ‘fat-dumb-Americans’. I used to try to defend my husband and his people by pointing out that ‘fat-dumb-American’ is a boring generalization. So I was a bit shocked to find myself laughing so hard at ‘Wall-E’, particularly as I’ve since found out the representation of people in ‘Wall-E’ hurt a lot of viewer’s feelings.
This girl cried: “All I can think of is how would you look at me? How would you look at someone’s sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, fathers and brothers—are they funny? Are they less human or dirty or stupid?”
Then this lady got angry: “‘Wall-E’... plays off the easy analogy between obesity and ecological catastrophe, pushing the notion that Western culture has sickened both our bodies and our planet with the same disease of affluence. According to this lazy logic, a fat body stands in for a distended culture: We gain weight and the Earth suffers. If only society could get off its big, fat ass and go on a diet!”It’s true the film draws an analogy between ‘overweight’ and ‘over-consumption’. However, I disagree that ‘Wall-E’ blames overweight people for Earth’s suffering. Rather, the obesity of humans in ‘Wall-E’ is depicted as a symptom of a society that has lost its way. These people are mindless; without independent thought they have all morphed into the same helpless form. The people in Wall-E are caricatures that warn against mindless-consumerism as it could result in the ‘fat-dumb-American’ stereo-type becoming a reality.
I love it! The point is, it’s okay to laugh at the characters in ‘Wall-E’ because they aren’t individuals struggling with weight issues, rather they are essentially babies whose bodies are soft and underdeveloped. They live a life of pure id; ‘me, want, now, hungry, now, now…’… and it takes the humanity of a little trash compactor robot called Wall-E to snap them out of it.
A beautiful film... go see it!