Several months ago, our intrepid writer Cole Abaius contemplated the possibility of there being a greater message in the upcoming Pixar film WALL-E. Would this cute little family film be this year’s An Inconvenient Truth, Abaius asked.
I’m sure Al Gore has already come out to claim that he invented the adorable little robot in much the same way as he claims to have invented the Internet. But who cares what Al Gore has to say? I went straight to the real creator of WALL-E: Andrew Stanton.
During a recent press junket for WALL-E, Stanton responded to questions about possible environmental messages in the film: “That’s your interpretation. That’s not where I’m coming from. I certainly see the parallels, but honestly all those factors came from very different places. Frankly, all my choices came from what I needed to amplify for the main point of the story, which was the love story between these robots.”
So why trash? Why was WALL-E left to clean up after the fat and lazy humans left earth? Are we the bad guys? Stanton said, “When I came up with trash, it was honestly because it was visual. You didn’t need to have English to explain it. Even a little kid’ll understand that, you know, you have to pick that up. And it would have all the detritus of humanity for WALL-E to rifle though and to show that he was interested in what we were all about.”
In the film, WALL-E discovers a lonely plant growing in a trash heap. The plant becomes a symbol of humanity’s return to Earth and a chance to reject their lazy ways. Stanton said he came up with the idea without a message in mind. “I actually came up with a plant before I knew what the heck I was going to do with it,” Stanton said. “I loved WALL-E finding something real. It’s almost like he was a man-made object with something real inside him. And here he is finding something real surrounded by man-made objects. And it just was poetic for me. It just fit.”
The humans who have left Earth have degenerated into gelatinous baby-like creates with deteriorated bone structure, but Stanton was inspired for this because of a real issue in space travel. “I talked to a guy from NASA who consults for long-term residency in space, and the reason they haven’t sent a man to Mars yet is because they haven’t firmly solved how to simulate gravity for the entire duration of the trip,” Stanton explained. “And if they don’t get it right, then disuse atrophy kicks in. And you begin to lose your bones, and you won’t get it back.”
If you are looking for an environmental message in this movie, you will probably find one. Of course, you might find an environmental message in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan too. Ultimately, it’s not the point of the movie, Stanton insists. The theme he says he was going for was that irrational love defeats life’s programming.
“I’m not stupid,” Stanton said. “I started to notice as this film was getting closer to being done the sort of issues that were out in the zeitgeist, but they were certainly not my intention. The last thing I’m gonna do is try to make a message movie.”
Sound off: Do you think WALL-E will have a green message? Or is that just a green pile of crap?