The people at Pixar have a gift. It's a rare gift, and an incredibly powerful one. The ability to tell wonderfully human stories. The fact that humans rarely play more than a supporting role in telling these stories is irrelevant. Anthropomorphism is a powerful thing.

It is the 29th century, and the Earth has been so overcome by human-created waste that it can no longer support life and has been abandoned by humanity 700 years earlier. WALL·E is a robot left behind to clean up the planet. Once there were many WALL·E robots, but our WALL·E is the only one still active. But due to his long period of operation and perhaps his isolation - he appears to have been alone for a very long time - WALL·E has developed sentience. Defined by two primary characteristics - curiosity and kindness, he has developed a routine for himself. With only a friendly cockroach for company, WALL·E goes about his day job, compacting and stacking humanity's legacy, rescuing items that he finds interesting - lighters, spare parts for himself from deactivated WALL·E units and a single plant. At night, he watches scenes from Hello, Dolly! before shutting down for the night.

This routine is shattered one day when a new robot named EVE arrives on a spaceship. WALL·E is instantly smitten with her, and shows her his collection of trinkets. Upon seeing the plant, EVE places it in a compartment inside her, and instantly shuts down. Her directive is to find life on Earth, and return evidence of it to humanity. WALL·E, however, is inconsolable. He tries everything to get her to restart, but to no avail. Her ship returns, to whisk her back to humanity, waiting in space in huge luxury-liner spaceships, with their every need tended to by the ship's robotic crew. This has left everybody fat, lazy and cocooned in their hoverchairs.

It is here that we see how infectious WALL·E's personality - his humanity, if you will - can be. In the briefest of time periods, he awakens the humanity within two of the people aboard the Axiom as well as the ship's captain, and becomes the leader of a band of rogue robots. The true irony here, of course, is that the only one truly living is a robot, while the humans act like mindless machines.

What ensues from here is one of the most wonderful love stories I have ever seen, highlighted by so many beautiful moments - WALL·E and EVE dancing together around the outside of the Axiom, EVE replaying unseen memories of WALL·E watching over and caring for her while she was waiting to be returned to the Axiom, and EVE desperately trying to repairs WALL·E's circuitry. The fact that it is a love story between two robots who communicate primarily through gesture and single words is simply irrelevant - these two robots are more alive than any of the humans shown in the film.

WALL·E is one of the sweetest, funniest, most delightful, uplifting films I have seen in a very long time. This is Pixar at its best once again, showing quite clearly where the true home of animation resides today. An absolute must see. A+.

No comments: