16 August 2008


We went to see Wall-E this evening. I didn't know anything much about the film, but the company name Pixar would naturally guarantee its quality. Of course, I wasn't disappointed and was even able to sympathise with both robots in the film -- Wall-E and Eve. Perhaps ironically if the characters had been real people I wouldn't have been able to do so. Perhaps I've simply lost faith in humanity.

The message of this film would probably please Al Gore, as it aims to criticise all of us (even Al Gore) who can't stop consuming and eventually making the world an ugly big junk heap. I couldn't help but feel depressed after watching the film even though there's some sort of hope at the end of the film when people are willing to give it another try, i.e. to make the world a better place.

But isn't this self-contradictory? To live is to consume, I believe. And as long as we breathe, we eat, drink, be merry, and produce rubbish. Perhaps the world will actually fare better without us. In this line of thought, the ending is not perhaps as optimistic as it may seem. Of course, humans will start rebuilding their civilisation, but we have seen the downside of civilisation -- rubbish and more rubbish.

I'll attempt another reading of the film. I believe what the Auto decides is right -- to abort the world and thus force people to remain on board in permanent exile in space. But this is not because the world has become unlivable, but because if we return we just do more damage to the world. Towards the end, you can see that plants do grow on earth without any help from us. The world has already begun the process of self-healing and it's us once again who return to destroy it.

What right do we have to claim that the earth is our home? What right does the captain have when he says that he wishes to return home? As long as we continue to think in this anthropocentric vein, the earth will continue to suffer.


Matthew Hunt said...

My interpretation of the ending was different - I thought that the humans were replanting everything, not that it happened naturally, thus humanity did try to save the planet, with the ending suggesting that, if we make the effort, we can avoid the desolate future that the film predicts at the start.

celinejulie said...

I think the ending of WALL E (2008, Andrew Stanton, A+/A) is very intriguing for me. Its ending credit makes me fear that the human civilization may destroy itself again, or maybe not. In the ending credit, we can see the ending story being told through many art styles. It starts with the ancient art, and the art styles keep moving forward chronologically, and seem to end with the style of the Impressionist and Vincent Van Gogh, or end with the style of art before the First World War. The story ends happily, but the art style used in the ending credit unintentionally makes me think that there may be a next World War waiting to happen, or the new civilization may run into the same horrifying troubles as in the twentieth century. The film doesn’t show us directly that the ruination of mankind may happen again, but seeing the art styles used in the ending credit makes me think about it.

Though I like WALL E very much, I give it only A+/A because the topic of the film doesn’t interest me that much. I think its ending is good, but somehow it is not extremely satisfying for me. Coincidentally, I just saw a Thai short animation called ON THE MOON (2007, Dhan Lhaow, A+), which I prefer to WALL E. In this animation, we see the heroine destroy the whole world with her powerful bomb, but I’m not sure why she does it. Then we see the sad hero begin to smile without reason. I don’t know what this film or its ending means actually, but its ending is weirdly satisfying for me, much more satisfying than the ending of WALL E.

If you are interested, you can watch ON THE MOON here:

Matthew Hunt said...

To me, the ending was positive - that if we make the effort, we can save the planet.

The different art styles were interesting in the end credits, going from cave painting via the Renaissance up to the beginning of modern art (Fauvism, Impressionisn, Pointillism). It stopped in the 1900s (then jumped forward to computer animation circa 1980s); I think I would have been reminded of the war only if it had included Cubism, abstraction, or Dada from the 1910s.

> "I give it only A+/A"

That's "only" a high score :-)

dechito said...

Thanks for your comments. I think the whole question is whether you wish to interpret what Pixar wants or not, whether you want to produce a good reading or a bad reading that deliberately transgresses what the filmmakers want.