Image courtesy of Pixar/The Walt Disney Company.

WALL-E Turns 15: Revisiting Pixar’s Timeless Masterpiece for the Ages

There is one Pixar movie that stands out from the rest: WALL-E (2008)… And on its 15th anniversary, this movie is still remembered as one of the greatest Pixar movies ever created. 

The pursuit of dreams, friendship, and generational conflicts are explored in almost all Pixar movies. With the power of animation, these stories convey relatable stories of immigration, grief, workplace rivalries, and familial relationships. With films such as Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Up, and Brave Pixar has changed the trajectory of storytelling through animation. In the last decade alone, Pixar explored culture, intergenerational trauma, and even the perspective of emotions with Coco, Turning Red, and Inside Out. But there is one Pixar movie that stands out from the rest: WALL-E directed by Andrew Stanton. And on its 15th anniversary, this movie is still remembered as one of the greatest Pixar movies ever created. 

The Best Original Pixar Story Ever Written

Image of EVE and WALL-E with lighter
Image courtesy of Pixar/The Walt Disney Company.

From the start, everything about WALL-E is different. It’s not just a children’s movie with a lovable protagonist; it’s a film that explores the result of human and corporate greed, consumerism, environmentalism, and neglect. Everything goes wrong. The Earth is uninhabitable. Humans migrate to space aboard The Axiom. A megacorporation called Buy N’ Large takes over every aspect of human life. To manage the waste left on Earth, the corporation leaves one trash compactor behind: WALL-E, also known as Waste Allocation Load Lifter: Earth Class. 

For years, the cute trash compactor provided a recycling practice to restore life to the planet. It wanders around the desolate and polluted Earth compacting trash and collecting trinkets left behind by humanity. The only friend it has is a cockroach, which follows him, and lives in a large truck with all of the abandoned human belongings. One day, his routine is interrupted when a probe arrives on Earth. An egg-shaped robot called Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator (EVE) is sent to the trash field to scan the Earth and find any signs of sustainable life. 

Timeless Storytelling and Breathtaking Visuals

Image of EVE and WALL-E watching sunset
Image courtesy of Pixar/The Walt Disney Company.

WALL-E is an apocalyptic and sentimental movie, and it’s Pixar at its most creative. Every aspect of the animated movie feels and looks different. It has minimal dialogue and focuses on a love story between two robots that span Earth and space. The characters often communicate through physical actions and expressive robotic noises. In fact, WALL-E largely tells the story of the cute trash-compartment robot visually. It relies heavily on this aspect over excess dialogue or heavy exposition, which is part of why the story is timeless. With WALL-E’s routines, trinket collection, and desire to hold another robot’s hand his deepest hopes and dreams are expressed through the gorgeous animation. The physical and visual humour works well, even without dialogue. The characters’ emotions are expressed clearly and call back to an old form of storytelling: silent movies. 

Not only does WALL-E have great character work, but the animated movie is also just visually spectacular. As the studio delved into science fiction for the first time with this story, there was a sense of grandness to be achieved. The animators created breathtaking imagery that showed undiscovered corners of space. 

Is It A Progressive Ecological Tale?

Image of human aboard Axiom
Image courtesy of Pixar/The Walt Disney Company.

Stanton himself has disputed the notion that WALL-E is an “environmentalist parable.” In a 2008 interview, he stated, “I don’t have a political bent or ecological message to push…Everything I wanted to do was based on the film’s love story, the last robot on Earth.” But art is always up for interpretation and the dystopian future in the film provides a cautionary tale. In fact, WALL-E is one of Pixar’s most progressive animated movies with themes of migration and overconsumption. It asks: What would happen if humanity turned their backs and left Earth to die? Answer: it would be uninhabitable. 

Corporations Vs. Humanity

Garbage littering earth
Image courtesy of Pixar/The Walt Disney Company.

The setting for this progressive fable is the 29th century. Humans have gotten too comfortable and lost their ability to create, think, and form relationships. They rely on motorised scooters to get anywhere. They are consumed by what is on their screens and never interact with each other. 

For 700 years, no one makes an effort to find a new planet, so they float in space. Humans have forgotten about Earth and what the megacorporation has done to it. The villain of this story, Buy N’ Large, distracts the humans aboard The Axiom for centuries. 

The company controls food, transport, and even the government. Corporate human greed turned Earth into a garbage wasteland. Society consumes products and private companies profit. From The Axiom to the waste management machines, Buy N’ Large’s efforts to correct their wrongs are perfunctory. 

An Imaginative Story with Charming Characters

EVE and WALL-E embrace
Image courtesy of Pixar/The Walt Disney Company.

Regardless of the themes discussed in WALL-E, the Pixar film has many memorable moments and charming characters. It has adventure, romance, and drama, and is genuinely funny. The romantic love story of WALL-E and EVE wins the hearts of the audience. Their love spreads through humans aboard The Axiom, waking them from their tech-induced slumber to explore the world beyond their screens.

WALL-E has given audiences hope through the lens of its dreary dystopian beginning. But whether a warning or a premonition, this animated movie is a scary depiction of the future. Even now, society’s need for consumption and drive for profit continue to increase. Will we end up like the humans aboard The Axiom? What will humanity choose; greedy corporations or humanity?

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