Sunday, May 16, 2010
From the Director of Finding Nemo, comes another heart-warming animated film Wall-E, the story of a robot and a dying earth. Director Andrew Stanton did complete justice to his concept with mind-blowing computer animation. Despite the robots not having actual human voices, but communicating only with body language and robotic sounds, the film has managed to convery its message quite strongly.
Wall-E is designed to clean up waste covered Earth far in the future. He is a small machine with wheels who scoops up garbage, shoves it in his belly to compress it into a cube and piles it up neatly in stacks. Year 2105 has bore the brunt of the rule of Buy and Large (BnL) Megacorporation which caused mass consumerism, covering the Earth with trash, leaving no clean space for humans to live. To resolve the problem, BnL created an army of trash compactor robots Wall-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth Class) and evacuated all humans into space in a luxury star liner, “The Axiom”. Since the plan largely failed, humans had to live in space indefinitely, leaving a lone robot Wall-E cleaning all the trash. In the Axiom, the humans live with the help of machines - only.
Wall-E the lone robot, collects interesting things he finds in the trash and keeps himself alive by re-using the spare parts of other robots long gone. He has his own charming place to live, with all his treasures, and a TV that plays songs. He understands primate feelings such as love watching the gestures on TV. He is lonely, and keeps himself busy with his “work” and his close friend - a cockroach who he tames as his loyal assistant. Wall-E is almost human. Especially when he falls in love.
Eve is a delightful beauty Wall-E is enamoured by. She comes in a spaceship to Earth and Wall-E is simply smitten. The visuals are stunning. They introduce themselves with their names and nothing else and throughout the movie, they communicate only with the sounds of their names and expressions. There is no spoken dialogue between them. This makes the film so universal, especially with its planetary theme.
Lovelorn Wall-E follows Eve all the way back to space and enters a whole new world. We see people cruising on luxury seats, eating, talking and making merry. They are all fat and ugly and don’t walk. The machines do all the work for them, right from getting ready in the morning to transporting them around the “ship” for various other chores. They sip on a soft drink and are paralyzed on their chairs, completely dependent on their robots.
I recently watched the documentary “Super Size Me”, and simply cannot deny a similarity. While in Wall-E the director has gone a step ahead and shown us beautifully what could possibly happen to our world in the future, Super Size Me does not stay too far from the perception of the people shown in the Axiom. Supersizing everything around us, starting from ourselves, with supersized burgers, and cars and houses and buildings and machines to rule our lives, we simply become fat, lazy gluttons. Not to exaggerate it, but America is the fattest country in the world, and also incidentally one of the most developed. So what could be the deduction? Development is directly proportional to destruction? Possibly so.
The people living in the Axiom are excessively dependent on machines for their existence, with an air tv, air palm trees, an artificial beach, an umbrella shade that walks and opens when needed, with robots doing them up with make up and spa treatment, and with machines that help them brush their teeth and get dressed. Ironically, with the kind of lifestyles we have, we too are getting increasingly dependent on machines to live comfortably. It's interesting to note how our thoughts have evolved to deliberate visually and animatedly about the big debate - Man v/s Machines. Who will win the battle? Does the Captain of the spaceship have the power to rule over the machine who rules his life? We see this starkly when the captain struggles to overpower his robots who prevent him from going back to Earth. He has to learn how to walk! His only hope is the little green plant that Wall-E brings to space, which will allow them to live on Earth again.
Andrew Stanton, in his attempt to create a visual masterpiece, has succeeded in also teaching us an important lesson. If we don’t buckle up and try and save our planet by reducing wastes and avoiding products that are harmful to our environment, we are in for big trouble. We may find the consequences of our deeds too far away from our generation, but someday we need to take a step and give our trees a chance to let us live in dignity. Consumerism is taking away our right to live responsibly. The spaceship will rule us soon. That little speck of green will save our lives.
Watch it for its meaningful story, its lesson, its animation and most of all for Wall-E, for his adoring eyes and most human gestures, who in the end is our savior. He is our metaphor for change.