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Wall-E: Rugged Green Individualist

John on July 3, 2008 at 8:30 pm

I took the kids to see Wall-E. It’s an enjoyable film in the manner of Bambi. My seven year old was particularly enthusiastic. I enjoyed the visuals and the director’s mostly successful attempt to tell a cinematic story, i.e. without much dialogue. In this sense, Director Andrew Stanton really has emulated one of the films that most clearly inspired him, 2001 (from which he also lifts some music cues).

Also worth a nod, Ben Burtt — who did the sound for Star Wars — does similar duty here. Let me predict now that he is going to win another Oscar for his work. I’m not sure the film would have worked without him. He really brings Wall-E to life.

The villain in the film is the President of the Buy N Large corporation, who also has apprently become the President of earth, or something like that. The not-so-subtle reference to Wal Mart (or is it Costco?) seems to come right out of the far left playbook. Humanity is implicitly blamed for being too lazy to take care of the Earth. But the film doesn’t let all the drearyness triumph.

A few reviewers have pointed out the hypocrisy of Disney (surely the Buy N Large of entertainment) releasing a film like this. They’re right of course. How many zillion Wall-E toys are they going to sell this year? How much of that plastic will be in landfills next year?

On a related note, I’m told that Director Stanton has claimed there’s no message in this film. He’s lying. The green message is fundamental to the story and obviously central to the director’s concern. That said, it doesn’t become preachy or cloying in the way that, say, Happy Feet did (What a terrifically tiresome bore that was!). Wall-E is always fun and charming. All Wall-E wants out of life is to hold hands with plucky Eve.

Wall-E may be a trash compactor, but throughout the film we see that he’s become much more than that. He saves bits an pieces that interest him, a Rubik’s cube, a hubcap, a shiny lighter. In the same way, Wall-E the film is not ultimately a story about environmentalism or global warming. The theme that really makes the film work is the one about preserving individualism, not letting our uniqueness become part of the grey, non-descript rubbish. That’s a message I think conservatives who believe in the ”rugged individualist” ideal will appreciate.

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