Self Film-Solation | Film 8 | WALL-E
Well I couldn’t very well do this (and say that I was going to keep it varied) without including a Kid’s film could I? To some people, that may sound dismissive, as if “Kid’s” film reduces a film’s importance. I assure that’s not what I meant.
The best kids’ films, in my eyes, are ones that are suitable for the whole family. As much as E.T. may fall into this bracket as well, I wanted to make sure I included an animation.
So, whilst I was racking my brains for the best one to pick, it didn’t take long to realise that I should look at Pixar’s back catalogue. I mean, they are the masters of marketable animated family films with something for everyone aren’t they?
WALL-E was the obvious choice. Apart from The Good Dinosaur, Onward and the Cars sequels, I have seen every other Pixar property. WALL-E is one that had been on my list for a while. I’m not quite sure why I hadn’t watched it if I’m honest. All the others I can tell you why I’ve yet to watch them. The Good Dinosaur passed me by and I’ve yet to circle back to it, Onward has only just come out and then they shut all the cinemas and the first Cars film did nothing for me so why would I want to revisit that nightmare world two more times? Tractors are cows……. So, does that mean that cows are tractors? The absolute horror of it all!
If I had to put my finger on it, I’d say its probably because I went into this film thinking it was basically dialogue free and for some reason that may’ve put me off. Whilst I wasn’t wrong, its so much more than that.
As daft as this sounds, the film is all about the animation. I cannot put it any more simply than to say that it is visually stunning. Some of these shots should be hanging in galleries because they contain far more substance than some of the more pretentious stuff I’ve seen.
Couple this with the animation of the film’s characters and Pixar have you just where they want you. Of all the films I have watched during this period, I’m not sure I’ve wanted a protagonist to succeed as much as WALL-E. Conveying emotion in this way is not an easy thing. Ask any Dancer, Mime or Physical theatre performer and they’ll tell you that one of the hardest things is connecting to an audience without dialogue and whilst not compromising the story or message of the piece.
WALL-E has this down to a tee. By designing their robots in such a way that allows us to humanise them and feel for them whilst never losing our grip on the world presented to us. Then by animating their movements so that we know exactly what they may be feeling, we can really connect with the characters. In short, they use movement to tell a story and the real genius is that you don’t even really notice the lack of dialogue, particularly in the early parts of the film. Like any good special effect, if you don’t notice it then it has done its job and they really knocked it out the park with this one, its seamless.
Something else I wasn’t expecting was a mix of live action and animation. At first, I found it jarring that the people of the past are live action and then the people of the future and the rest of the film are all largely animated. However, I eventually relaxed into this and found it added to the point the film was making. By having the long dead humans appear as real it made the grotesque blob-ish humans of the film’s present appear even more so, this only helped the film make its point about the characters' reliance on technology. A real innovative use of the medium and another reason why Pixar continue to be the best in the business.
I know I always try and find something I didn’t like in the interest of balance. But I honestly couldn’t find anything. The film was just beautifully made and fully deserves its place in history as one of the best. It looks amazing, the characters are likeable, and it has a great message for its audience that it presents us without being preachy. Truly a credit to the studio and everyone involved in the production.
Its this sort of thing that cinema should be used for. Similarly to my point about E.T, yes some of the greatest films of all time are stories about tortured souls on odyssey-like journeys, but sometimes you just want a lonely robot falling in love with another robot.
So, bit of a shorter one for you today. But y’know what? Use that time to go and watch WALL-E.
Originally published on Tumblr on 30th March 2020