It was back in the eighties, watching Educating Rita for the first time, that I knew I wanted to be in the film business. There’s a small scene where Michael Caine, the drunken professor, is clearing out the bookshelves of his office, and behind every batch of books there’s an empty booze bottle. Bam! That it was someone’s job to put each bottle there, someone’s job to creatively engage the audience with detail and depth – well that was just amazing. I only recount this because you may otherwise find it strange that a blog that deals with film locations and location filming, this time deals with an animated movie with no real-life locations at all. What Wall-e, the latest bit of digital magic from Pixar, does have though, is a great big heart and a wallop of delightful imagination.
Set 700 years after mankind’s evacuation of an irredeemably polluted Earth, a solar powered Waste Allocation Load Lifter – Earth class robot (WALL-E – geddit?) is still getting up each morning to pack and stack the world’s garbage. But centuries of prolonged activation and isolation have caused him to develop a personality. He’s become a collector of the interesting items that he finds among the refuse, and he’s got a pet cockroach. He constantly watches a videotape of the 1969 movie Hello, Dolly! and from this he has learned about love. When he meets EVE -an Extra Terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator – whose mission is to find plant life on Earth, he follows her back to mankind’s spaceship amongst the stars, where seven hundred years of weightlessness and robotic pampering have made mankind as fat and helpless as babies -but where the robots have an equally sinister mission…..
Wall-e is sweet and simple, and unlike many post-Apocalyptic movies (remember Silent Running?) it’s optimistic. But it’s the sheer attention to detail of the filmmakers that overwhelms. From the Pixar-referenced trash that Wall-e collects, to the magnificent, multi-layered devastation of the planet, to the remarkable, witty, automated city-in-the sky, Wall-e needs to be seen to be believed. And heard too; for a movie that spends the first half hour with no clear dialogue, it’s a veritable sound fest.
So, location or no, Wall-e is simply one of the best imagined pictures ever, and an absolute must-see.