Monday, June 30, 2008

Wonderful Wall-E

Wall-E is a dogeared trash compactor designed to manage the piles of garbage that have overtaken the planet. He spends his days cheerfully compacting garbage into bricks with which he builds piles that tower above the abandoned skyscrapers.

He also rescues items of interest and brings them back to his little home. His collection includes a pile of rubber duckies, lighters, strands of Christmas lights, and spare parts scavenged from other unluckier Wall-Es. But his most treasured possession is a worn VHS tape of the 1969 musical "Hello Dolly".

By some strange coincidence, I watched this musical a few days ago while sorting through my greeting cards. In high school, it was among my favorites and I've seen it many, many times. It's rather obscure and wasn't exactly critically acclaimed. But the character I love most in the film is Cornelius Hackle, a twenty eight and three quarter year old shop clerk who has never been outside of the hick town of Yonkers.

When his boss leaves town, he decides to play hooky and, live, really live, even if just for one day. He and his sidekick Barnabus go to New York, meet two beautiful girls, take them out to the most expensive restaurant in the city, order bottles upon bottles of champagne, and then run like hell when the bill arrives. And of course, they fall madly in love.

This plot element is the one that moves Wall-E. He knows that his quiet life is empty without love (his only friend is a hilariously indestructible cockroach.) He does finally meet a special someone and of course his whole world changes after that special moment.

I felt the second half of the film was a bit disappointing- a little redundant perhaps. The ending was not trite, or overly tidy, which I found satisfying. It was astonishing that a film with so little dialog could still accomplish so much emotional complexity.

On the way home Eric and I talked about the enormous creativity that goes into the making of these films. What I find so intriguing is the stark contrast between the Pixar films and the animated films Disney turns out. Here are two branches of the same company, and one has been reduced to straight to DVD releases of schmaltzy princess movies while the other continues to produce sophisticated entertainment that appeals to adults and children alike. (At the late showing we attended there were no children in the theater at all.) Their critique of consumer culture looses a little authenticity in light of the Disney brand sneakers in every Target store. But in the end, Wall-E was immensely enjoyable and leaves me eager for the next Pixar release. Click here to check out some wonderful vignettes. My personal favorite is the vacum cleaner.


Anonymous said...


In Nairobi there is an Ashoka Fellow why has made a way to take garbage and compact it into smokeless briquettes. In this way he gets rid of major amounts of garbage, provides heating for people and eliminates air pollution from the smoke. How's that for world changing creativity?

Daddy G

Miss B said...

Sounds like an excellent idea. I'd love to know his name!

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