Monday, September 01, 2008


Wall•E just started at cinemas in Singapore this past weekend, but it has been driving me crazy all summer long. My nephews and godchildren saw a commercial for it early in the summer, and for three months now have been saying "Waaaaall•E" in that irritating robotic voice. I am hoping that our viewing of it over the weekend might have satisfied their hunger for the show, and I might stop hearing that. But I have a feeling that is just wishful thinking.

Wall•E actually turned out to be a better movie than I was expecting. I liked the limited dialogue, and how most of the movie is understood via a medium other than language. There is something very appealing about that, something that reaches a part of the mind other than that with which I mostly function throughout the day. (I can't help it, I am a very language-oriented person.)

Paralleling that appeal to a sub-linguistic part of the brain is the emphasis on human contact in its most basic forms. Well, perhaps "human" is not quite the right word, considering that Wall•E is not exactly human. Let's call it, then, contact between like-minded beings. That is the central point of the movie, facing competition for our attention only from the green theme. The repetition of the image of interlocking hands drives the point home: like-minded beings need each other. The juxtaposition of two robots who learn to love each other with humans who isolate themselves in a digital world is a very obvious way of making this point, but the cuteness of the robots covers a multitude of overtness.

Wall•E does a nice job of exploring some of science fiction's biggest concerns (the colonization of space, the future of the human race if we continue on the path we are walking, environmental issues, where androids and cyborgs might fit into the picture of our future, etc.). The limited use of dialogue is a good way of exploring these issues at a very basic level. Whatever faults I might find with the film, I do like its attempt to approach complex questions in this way.

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