I have been hungover a lot recently, you know the feeling…. Dry mouth, a hatred of anything that isn’t a bed, basically a feeling of complete irritation in your own skin. You’ll be glad to know that I have bravely fought through these dark days and am now back in the land of the living, gone is the morning routine of paracetamol and Lucozade, I am back to work and almost acting like a man nearly in my 30’s.
Now there is one thing I can’t do hungover and that is read, it kills me. I would like nothing more than be able to lie there passing days doing so but my eyes just don’t like doing it when I’m rough so I usually have to turn to films or television. I have a bit of a weird hangover cure, which is as I put it “having a right good greet”. I love having a wee cry to make me feel better and I found the perfect film to do just that!
From 2008, Disney and Pixar’s WALL-E…
It starts off in a distant future where the earth has been abandoned, vast landscapes of emptiness, city’s covered in rubbish with not a soul around. Its here we are introduced to our (unbelievably cute) trash compacting, solar powered robot WALL-E. He spends day after day, year after year collecting rubbish, squeezing it into cubes and organising it into huge towers.
WALL-E has a lonely existence and along with his only friend a remarkably resilient cockroach goes about his mundane task. It’s when he returns to his shelter at night we find just how inquisitive WALL-E is, he takes great pleasure in collecting all manner of items from the past and keeps them all neatly organised on mechanical shelves. He also gets mesmerised an old musical (Hello Dolly, 1969) and watches it time and time again, he even records a segment of the couple dancing and holding hands.
Its not long after this when a futuristic, fierce reconnaissance robot by the name of EVE is dropped off in an enormous ship to Earth. WALL-E’s inquisitiveness and need for companionship drives him to follow her everywhere and soon they form a sort of friendship. EVE has a defined mission and is highly driven to her task so after a discovery she must return to her ship immediately. As usual the besotted WALL-E follows her all the way into space!
Its during this segment of the film that has a total lack of dialogue, WALL-E communicates with blips, mechanical noises and says his name over and over again. EVE communicates in much the same way but you understand everything so clearly, you really feel what WALL-E in particular is trying to say with body language and his robotic tones. In a world where we are inundated with verbal and written communication such as Facebook, texts, Twitter, Face Time and even phone calls. It’s refreshing to just take a bit of a break from it and really try to read the situation.
As I was saying WALL-E followed EVE into space to a huge mother ship by the name of “The Axiom”. The Axiom was on a simple 5 year mission to take humanity away from Earth until the world would become habitable again. Since this was not deemed possible the Axiom has now been cruising for 700 years.
The humans on board have never known anything different from this life, and have become hugely out of touch from Earth and have grown lazy due to the convenience that the largely robot crew have provided. Meals are delivered in liquid form and have caused them to become morbidly obese, this has made them unable to walk unattended and they are carted around on huge gliding chairs with inbuilt communication devices meaning you never have to leave your chair. Perhaps this fate is not hard to imagine and many would argue that this could be in the within the realms of possibility, which makes you think on a deeper level. We do live in a world of convenience and so it’s not hard to feel some sort of connection with the humans, you largely just want to shake them and try to wake them up out of their lethargy. This seems impossible due to the fact they are completely oblivious to everything outside their chairs.
There is a particularly delightful moment when WALL-E manages to turn off a couple of the peoples communication systems and they soon meet (this was the aforementioned shake-up). John and Mary almost instantly fall in love and go on a wee stroll (on their chairs) through the Axiom. They see everything in a different light without the distractions of their chairs, Mary actually notices that the ship has a pool. John and Mary seem to be the first people to interact face to face in maybe 700 years and take great pleasure in each others company.
It’s so interesting because we are seeing the humans world through the machines, machines who feel more about Earth and life than the humans do. The depiction of humans on the ship could have been incredibly offensive, cheap, and tasteless in concept but the execution here is absolutely perfect.
My favourite human character in the film has to be the Axiom’s Captain. Captain B. McCrea voiced by Jeff Garlin who takes the most amazing journey from his everyday life to essentially saving the Earth. When he learns from EVE’s reconnaissance that the Earth may indeed be safe again, he delves into the past human world on Earth and is awestruck! He seriously falls in love with Earth and is amazed by things we have taken for granted. He loses himself in archive footage of blue sky’s and grass, of buildings and even pizza. It’s here my favourite line of the film “Define Dancing” is said, the captains eyes are fixed to the screen as he sees many happy people dancing. A huge well of hope is restored for humanity.
But lets not forget about our robot friends who aid the captain in disarming the ships auto-pilot “AUTO” who is maybe slightly misunderstood. AUTO has been programmed to follow a directive, he shows no form of emotion at all. You could draw similarity’s to the coldest robot in history “HAL 9000” from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is presumed that AUTO took the directive literally as: “Prevent any attempt to return to Earth at all cost”, when the mission actually meant: “Do not return to Earth unless it is proven sustainable for life once more”. Because of AUTO’s mistake, the humans have remained in space for centuries. AUTO is relentless in carrying out his orders and tries to destroy the organic matter used as Earth’s final hope. He also gets a bit too relentless and holds the passengers against their will before being thwarted.
Here is the Captain poignantly making his point to AUTO;
“Captain: That’s… that’s nearly 700 years ago!! Auto, things have changed! We’ve got to go back! AUTO: Sir, orders are: “Do not return to Earth”. Captain: But life is sustainable now! Look at this plant, green and growing! It’s living proof he was wrong. AUTO: Irrelevant, Captain. Captain: What?! It’s completely relevant! Out there is our home! Home, Auto! And it’s in trouble! I can’t just sit here and… and… do nothing! That’s all I’ve done! That’s all anyone on this blasted ship has ever done… Nothing!! AUTO: On the Axiom you will survive. Captain: I don’t want to survive! I want to live!”
WALL-E and EVE are a definition of an odd couple. WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter – Earth-Class) is a trash compactor, he is old-fashioned and clumsy, he is made up of bits of old robots that he has repaired himself with, he seems quite happy to just swan off and chase EVE rather than stick to his programmed task. Whereas EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) is a sleek and futuristic model, she moves around gracefully using anti-gravity, she is solely driven to carrying out her task and would not let anything get in the way of that. WALL-E is clearly in love with EVE and although she takes some convincing she falls for him too. You could draw many different examples of modern-day love to the couple. You could get really deep and think about class or even race barriers. But the thought of two robots, with such wildly different backgrounds and programming could find love with each other is as heart-warming as any human romance found in the Box Office right now, if not even more so.
The fact that we see certain facets of ourselves in these robots is a testament to the creators especially with the previously mentioned lack of dialogue. This film, without sounding cliché can speak to so many people on so many levels. Although this is a children’s film I challenge any adult not to be melted by this picture, everyone can take something from the heart-warming story and the multiple layers depicted in the film mean that you’ll pick up something new each time you watch it.
Please watch it next time you’re rough, I promise you’ll thank me.