As Cool As A Fruitstand

…and maybe as strange. A movie blog.

WALL-E

Posted by Hedwig on August 3, 2008

CAUTION: post written after severe thesis frustration, quite a few rounds of movie hints and about a bottle of rosé.

Somehow, I was afraid I would be underwhelmed by Pixar’s latest production, like I was by Andrew Stanton’s previous directorial effort, Finding Nemo. I was afraid that, like with The Dark Knight, I would have had to defend my lukewarm response, my lack of enthusiasm. I needn’t have feared.

Wall-E is simply marvelous.

Sure, its message is not as sophisticated as Ratatouille’s was, its humor is rather childish, its conclusion saccharine. But the important thing is: I didn’t give a damn. I didn’t care, for example, that tilting a ship which generated its own gravity would not, in fact, make all people slide to the side. I didn’t mind that trash robots would have no need for speech abilities. I didn’t even mind the ecological message, something that usually annoys me to no end.

I just sat back and let the story wash over me.

The power of it is that the humans really don’t matter that much. We don’t care whether they go back to earth or not: we just care about WALL-E and EVE, and whether they will achieve their directive. Whether they’ll get to hold “hands”, at last. And, more simply, we care about watching them interact.

The comparisons to silent comedy heroes like Chaplin and Keaton might be a bit over the top, but it’s true that WALL-E is at its strongest when there is no need for words. Just a tilting of the eyes, a tentative movement of limbs, even a simple gesture can be enough. It’s not just that the best comedic moments are visual: the beauty, more than anything else, stems solely from the images. Watching WALL-E and EVE dance around the spacemship is a thing of beauty, visual poetry that few movies nowadays – afraid as they are of seeming corny – dare to attempt.

It’s telling that all the Pixar shorts (including the hilarious Presto, which puts you in exactly the right mood for this film) are devoid of words. I’m someone who’s quite verbally oriented, and who loves the power of words, but the people at Pixar understand just how funny images and movements can be. Just how poetic, too.

I guess I don’t have anything particularly deep to say about WALL-E. It’s not a particularly deep movie – Ratatouille, for one, had a much more complex and mature theme. But not everything needs to be deep, and WALL-E is a thing of beauty, from the first twenty minutes to the marvelous end credits, in which we see the evolution of species illustrated in an evolution of drawing/painting styles. It’s a movie that put a smile on my face, and that I can recommend to just about anyone.

To end up with: I have a Dark Knight edition of Sunday reading planned for tomorrow. But there are some other links I’d like to share, too. For instance, the new edition of Bright Light Film Journal is out, and while I’ve only had the time to read two or three articles so far, but I’m sure the other are great as well. Furthermore, Evan Derrick over at MovieZeal has organized a noir month, and though I’d have loved to be a part of it, I can understand that my low productivity of late didn’t make me an ideal candidate. Anyway: that won’t stop me from linking. The Maltese Falcon (probably my favorite classic noir) is up first, This Gun for Hire (have read the book, still need to see the film) is second, and pretty much all the greats will get their day in the sun.

Anyway, I’ve downed a liter of water, so I should be okay enough to work on my thesis tomorrow. Yay….

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8 Responses to “WALL-E”

  1. Interesting how while you were at least somewhat letdown by The Dark Knight I was letdown by Wall-E. I suppose the difference between the majority Wall-E’s acolytes and those who found themselves disappointed in it is if you found the transition from the (gloriously) simple love story to the other matters that are introduced that I found fairly deflating (by the point of the hunt for the plant, I must admit, I was mentally tuning out). The comparisons between what Stanton does early on in Wall-E to Chaplin, Keaton, Tati and many others suggest has become de rigeur, yet they are valid. I just wish the film had continued to be that courageous.

    Presto Chango is the best Pixar short by a mile, though. Simply perfect.

  2. I am so glad you loved “WALL-E,” and despite the rosé (lucky you), that is a fabulous write up indeed 🙂

  3. Sam Juliano said

    I completely agree with you on WALL-E, which as you must have noticed has received the finest reviews of any film this year, foreign-language or American by the professional critics. I continue, however to mourn Alexander Coleman’s issues with the film, (however eloquently they are stated) and feel this is the pinnacle of Pixar’s output. Good luck on your thesis and I will look to you to continue the blogger fight for WALL-E. Of course your piece here, despite the early mild deisclaimers, was wonderful.

  4. Do not cry for me, Sam.

    It was so late last night, and I had just come home from a concert 60 miles from home, so please excuse the failings of my earlier post, the greatest of which was to not praise your write-up, Hedwig, as I do believe it may be the most convincing case for the film I’ve yet read because you accepted the film for its uncomplicated, serene beauty, which, when the film is operating at its optimum, is quite inarguable. You’ve made me want to see it again, and I’m sure I will, on DVD.

  5. Kaj said

    Love that you loved Wall-E, thanks for the Noir link and sorry for coming off as agressive on this blog sometimes. I don’t mean to. And a viewing of This Gun For Hire is just a call away.

  6. Ah, Hedwig, I didn’t ask you to write something because you’re output has been lacking, but because I just don’t know you that well yet. 🙂 I wanted to keep things manageable with 31 films and a small docket of contributers, but everyone seems to want more, more, more. I can’t count the number of complaints that go “why isn’t X film on the list,” or “why did you include Y but not Z?” (by the way, these are good complaints, and I’m grateful for them)

    All that to say, if there is a film noir not on our list that you’re passionate about and want to write on, by all means send me a piece. It will be posted, guaranteed. More is always better, especially with writers as good as yourself.

  7. sarcastig said

    Thanks for all your comments!

    And Evan: I’d love to. Truth is, I haven’t got the time or the energy right now for the kind of in-depth, well-written, well thought-out piece your lovely noir-month deserves.

    Two more weeks!

  8. jizzka said

    was just browsing about, and reading this made me want to watch wall-e even more. wonderful review. kudos.

    =)

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