Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Signs of life

For some bizarre reason, I had no idea Wall-E was a pro-environmentalist animated film. Maybe I merely scanned the reviews... but I thought I was going to see a simple robot love story and adventure set 700 years in the future.

Oops. Turns out, the only reason Wall-E the small trash compactor is alone on Earth is because humans have produced too much garbage and abandoned their home planet. Eve, a robot probe, is sent to Earth centuries later to find signs of life. Most of the story takes place not on Earth but on the huge Noah's Ark-type spaceship where all of humankind lives in an obese, lazy, desensitized existence, unknowingly governed by their gadgets. (Incidentally, Wall-E seemed like a PC and Eve like a Mac: he kept having to reboot, and she just looked sexier, sleeker, and more hip...)

Yeah, was not expecting any of that! Innovative story, though, if you accept that robots or computers are inherently gendered and can evolve feelings. There is one little robot close to my heart, though: the little OCD guy perpetually vacuuming. Cute.

What was really fascinating, though, were the bits where actors or scenes from The Music Man were inserted into the animation (which was also at times eerily lifelike). Through the same repeated image vestiges of human life on Earth, these snippets of actual humans, their music, and their films reminded both Wall-E and the brainwashed homo sapiens (not to mention viewers) of what humanity really is, or at least once was.

I cringed, though, when the CEO of the "Big N Large" Corporation urged humans to "stay the course" and not change their diets or wasteful habits. The scene shortly after that one is the creepiest in the film, where the same character admits off-camera that humans have made Earth uninhabitable, and need the wool pulled over their eyes in order to maintain a happy, consumerist facade of life. The Matrix, indeed!

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