It seems apt, considering all the hubbub surrounding ‘Curiosity’ landing on Mars and Pixar‘s ’25 Years of Animation’ to dedicate this article to the most adorable and loveable animated robot I’ve ever seen; WALL-E, the eponymous hero of Pixar’s 2008 film.

WALL-E is a rubbish collecting robot left on Earth after humanity have abandoned it for outer space, where we can continue our consumer driven and increasingly technology-dependent lives. He survives by repairing himself from spare parts and with a developed sentience, takes a great interest in collecting  cultural remnants — including listening to old film soundtracks. 

One day, WALL-E finds and nurtures a seedling — surprising, because Earth is classed as ‘lifeless’ now. A spaceship lands and deploys EVE, a robot programmed to seek out scraps of natural life. Inspired by the little he knows of romance, WALL-E falls for the cold behaviour of EVE and tries to hold her hand — I know, robots holding hands, it’s ridiculously wonderful. 
Eventually she warms to him and they become good friends, frolicking in scrap metal playgrounds, until WALL-E demonstrates the sign of true affection by showing her his collection. EVE goes all robot-on-a-mission when she spots the plant, storing it and going into ‘standby’. WALL-E, confused and heartbroken, takes care of EVE in her frozen state, sheltering her from the elements though she is unresponsive. He hitches a ride on the back of her returning spaceship when it comes to collect her because she has made progress on her ‘directive’. 

This spaceship pod returns to it’s mothership the Axiom, a large craft containing the remaining human population. Our descendants have become morbidly obese and suffered great bone loss as the generations have gone on, becoming more reliant on bombarding consumerism and floating about on massive armchairs with screens, rather than interacting with each other and the low gravity world of their spaceship. This bit is hilarious as it makes fun of the big flashy American corporations and Western society’s obsession with being ‘in’. In one scene, the trend changes from wearing blue baby onesie type clothes to wearing…red ones. And everyone goes crazy for it and instantly changes their outfit with the click of a button. 

When EVE returns the plant to the Captain, he learns the Axiom is supposed to leap straight back to Earth to let humanity settle back there, because life can be cultivated again. However, there is another secret plan issued by past officials to the current robot assistant to the Captain to prevent this from happening. 
WALL-E goes on a wild chase to rescue EVE from being ‘scrapped’ after failing her mission when the plant goes missing, whilst the Captain wrestles with humanity’s incompetence after generations of ‘devolution’, rallying his own body and the numbed minds of his fellow populace to take the Axiom back from this robot assistant, acting on incorrect human orders, and return humanity to Earth with this plant — a new hope of life.

[as a kid, I used to put think bras were like glasses as well]

I adore this film because, not only is it Pixar, who really know how to pull at the heartstrings [just see the introduction of Up or the conclusion to the Toy Story trilogy] but because they make all the animation innately human, with it’s emotion and realism. This is a Dystopia, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It makes fun of the ‘baby-like’ humanity that has gorged itself on consumerism, but this humour hurts because underneath it there is the element of truth — this future is not so unrealistic. 

There is nothing ground-breaking about the type of Earth ‘WALL-E’ creates or even the technological advances it credits humanity with, but it works because it shifts the perspective from humanity to a robot who harks back to the ‘glory days’ of culture, before we messed up our nest. He has a humanity, more so than the actual humans, and all the robots have such complex characteristics that, ironically, they are really the main cast and the best hope for helping humanity realise how base it has become.

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