Friday, July 4, 2008


Yesterday, my family went to see the movie WALL-E. My husband had read good reviews of it and my daughter is finally old enough to enjoy the theater. It seems that this season there are quite a few good movies out for kids. Although WALL-E seems to fit into this category, I think it would be better to classify it as an adult movie in cartoon form. For, although the cute characters are appealing to the young, the storyline, subtleties, and message of the movie are aimed at an older audience. The environmental moral is one that every gardener will appreciate.

WALL-E is the first of its kind -- as far as I know -- a sci-fi full length feature digitally animated movie. The film medium allows the storytellers to open their imaginations to show things that would not be easily achieved in a film with live actors. The gist of the story is that humans have polluted the earth so that it is no longer habitable. In about 100 years from now, they send off a large spaceship filled with people. These people set off to enjoy a five year vacation while the planet is cleaned by robots. Instead, the company charged with the task (the one that seems to have created the problem in the first place and seems to be working with the government) cannot achieve its goal. Humans float around in space for 700 years. One robot (WALL-E) remains, trying his best to clean up the planet, compacting and making skyscrapers of garbage. One day, a probe robot is sent from the human ship to see if any sign of life remains on earth. The new model robot meets WALL-E. They discover a lone plant that has survived despite the noxious conditions.

The probe brings the plant back to the ship and humans must decide what there next move is. They have all "evolved" into blubbery beings, having lost bone density in space and relying solely on technology to survive. They don't walk, instead propelling themselves with wheelchair like devices. They don't interact with other humans face-to-face, relying instead on monitors to communicate with others. They don't eat, sipping drinks for sustenance. It is a bleak picture of a future that struck me as not too far from where we could be heading. The WALL-E character serves to re-humanize them, showing a warmth that seems dichotomous to this mundane future existence. The thread of emotion through the film makes it all the more special.

The environmental message is thrust at you, but the clever storyline keeps it from being overwhelming. I was struck by the value of the lone plant, how much it was appreciated after humans thought they had lost all plants for good. The symbol of this lone plant representing a troubled planet resonated strongly with me. While, my husband and daughter focused on the robot characters and identified strongly with the human emotions they exuded, I felt myself identifying most with the message of the plant. WALL-E has something for everyone. I think it will become a classic and is certainly a must-see movie for our time.

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