June 27th 2008 – the day WALL·E was released widely in theatres across North America. Exactly 10 years later, we’re celebrating WALL·E’s 10th anniversary with 10 reasons why we think WALL·E still deserves the title of ‘One Of The Best Pixar Movies’ (we feel that the conclusive ‘Best Pixar Movie’ title doesn’t, and shouldn’t, exist!). Read on to discover why co-writers Nia and Joanna believe WALL·E will always deserve a place in the Pixar Hall of Fame.
1. Lack of Dialogue
One of the most iconic aspects about WALL·E is the fact that more than half of the film is done without dialogue. The film just wouldn’t be the same if the loveable robot could speak or if WALL·E and EVE had a romantic conversation as they watched the sun set. Animation means so much to me because there are literally no rules as to how someone could tell a story – you can have toys coming to life, bugs rebelling against grasshoppers, etc., but each of those unique stories could be told in so many different ways. In WALL·E we follow a robot on this massive adventure as he leaves the garbage-ridden planet he calls home, flies through space and eventually makes it on-board a fancy spaceship, but we see it all without dialogue and we barely even notice. There is so much that can be said with a simple glance, a gesture, or even a brief cut that 12 pages of dialogue can never achieve. WALL·E is a testament to that – even though the film is now ten years old, it’s still ambitious and there hasn’t been a film yet to challenge its lack of dialogue.
2. The Love Story
Stand aside, Rapunzel and Finn, you too Cinderella and Prince Charming, because WALL·E and EVE might be the most iconic couple in animation history. There’s nothing better than an unconventional love story, especially one that doesn’t even revolve around humans. When I first went into the cinema to watch WALL·E, I had no idea that the core of the film would revolve around WALL·E and his heart of gold as he tries to win the affections of EVE. Not only does he share all the things he loves with EVE when she visits earth, but he follows her all over space, and even risks his life to save her at the end. WALL·E, a true gentleman robot, even protects EVE and watches after her once she shuts down while on earth. Opposites attract in the most beautiful ways with their relationship. Hey, I know it’s been 10 years but I’m still waiting for a scene of them flying off into the sunset holding hands and singing along to Hello, Dolly!
WALL·E concept art by Ralph Eggleston
3. Classic Film References
Speaking of Hello, Dolly! One of the reasons this film is so special is because of all the beautiful references to this iconic musical. Lets talk about that opening sequence and the use of Put on Your Sunday Clothes:
There’s a world outside of Yonkers
Way out there beyond this hick town, Barnaby
There’s a slick town, Barnaby
Full of shine and full of sparkle
Close your eyes and see it glisten, Barnaby
The lyrics are dripping with nostalgia and fit WALL·E’s story almost perfectly – the urge to make earth the way it once was, before it was overflowing with garbage and waste, and to set off into space, exploring the world outside of the planet. Those lyrics also capture the whimsically and childlike wonder of WALL·E. It might seem odd there’s such a random focus on Hello, Dolly! But it makes sense in relation to the story. WALL·E only has the VHS copy of the musical to keep him company on earth. Just like his cockroach friend, Hello, Dolly! Is one of his companions and part of him; it’s what keeps him going and motivated throughout the film.
Another great reference to classic film is of course, the evil robot AUTO on the human’s spaceship. The chilling personality of the robot resembles the infamous HAL: 9000 from 2001: A Space Oddity; from the deadpan voice to the robot’s design, it’s hard to ignore that the film directly influenced the character.
4. Character Designs
One of the most charming elements about WALL·E is all the character designs – they’re simple and efficient, we don’t need to have all the detail in the world thrown into WALL·E, EVE, or even the humans to care for them, to root for them. There’s just enough detail as to not distract us from the heart of the story. The design of AUTO is also simplistic, he looks like a steering wheel for Pete’s sake, and yet we’re terrified of him and want him to be shut down completely for the sake of team WALL·E. From the dirty, clunky box shapes of WALL·E, and the sleek and oval designs of Eve, to even the round and disproportioned humans; the way each character was crafted tells us perfectly about who they are and how they interact with others in the world around them. At first all of the different character shapes look like a game of Tetris; you don’t think they’re going to be a match but then you realize how they move and flow and work together to save the day and they all fit perfectly into place, as if they were always meant to be together.
5. Director Andrew Stanton
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I like to think about how another director at Pixar would’ve handled WALL·E. If Brad Bird or Pete Docter directed the film, it just wouldn’t have been the same. Granted, it would’ve been a brilliant film but it would’ve been different. WALL·E would’ve been there, maybe the same story would’ve remained intact, but the vision would’ve been something else entirely. Each director brings a part of themselves on to their projects – if you gave me and a few other storytellers the same prompt and told us to write a 90-page screenplay, each one would be dissimilar. WALL·E works so well because it’s Andrew Stanton’s vision. You look at this film and it fits so well with the other stories on his fantastic repertoire – A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, and even Finding Dory; Stanton’s films are always so simplistic, ambitious, and character driven. He pushes his characters out of their comfort zones, putting them into these massive environments and seeing how they’re going to react: Flick leaving the comforts of the colony in A Bug’s Life, Marlin facing his fears and literally swimming out into the deep blue sea in Finding Nemo, and even WALL·E flying into space to follow the love of his life; there’s a common theme of exploration, both internally and externally, with Stanton’s films.
6. Its Strong Environmental Message
One of the reasons I adore Pixar movies is because of the striking messages that are always so perfectly communicated within them. WALL·E is a perfect example of this – WALL·E himself teaches us to be kind and loyal, and the film’s overarching environmental and commercial themes make it forever, and increasingly, relevant. Some found the environmental message to be too obvious or too ‘in your face’, but I think it was a brave move on Pixar’s part. We’re in a strange situation at the moment – species are edging towards extinction wherever you look, but for the most part the world is almost choosing to look in the other direction. I love that WALL·E wasn’t afraid to put its environmental message right at its core. Pixar wasn’t lecturing us – the lesson was interwoven into a unique, universal love story. The moment I first saw WALL·E gaze at that single green, thriving sapling with pure wonder, I knew I was watching something special.
7. The Size and Setting
Not many Pixar movies can claim that they took their audiences across the galaxy. World-building is a tricky thing – I feel like it must be even more difficult when creating an animated movie. You’re transporting people to fantastical worlds that need to feel real and believable, but not so real and believable that the magic is lost. The fact that WALL·E takes place in several incredibly distinct settings, spanning across an entire universe, while still managing to focus on its characters and its story is amazing to me. WALL·E is ambitious. The movie’s opening quite literally sets the scene by showing stunning shots in outer space – it starts off big, immediately scales down to WALL·E’s own little world, and then blasts us back off into the stars again.
8. The Music
Thomas Newman, the composer for Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, and of course WALL·E, does an astounding job at filling huge, open worlds with wonder and beauty. In a movie with very little dialogue, especially between the two main protagonists, the music needs to be expressive and descriptive – it needs to envelope the viewer in the story and help them connect and empathise with the characters. Newman’s score does exactly this. And on top of all that, how does the soundtrack somehow mingle seamlessly with 60’s Broadway music, Louis Armstrong’s cover of La Vie En Rose (1950), and catchy BnL jingles? It’s kind of genius.
9. The Sound Effects
WALL·E and EVE can’t exactly speak, so why is it so easy to understand what they’re communicating? A big part of this is the clever animation of gestures, but also the creation of futuristic yet familiar sound effects. Ben Burtt, who is famously known for creating the ‘voice’ of R2-D2 in Star Wars (along with many other iconic Star Wars sound effects), was the sound designer for WALL·E and could even be credited as the ‘voice’ of WALL·E himself. I love the sound effects in WALL·E. I love how they flesh out the oddly beautiful post-apocalyptic world that we’re introduced to. I love how they don’t exactly give the robots ‘voices’ or a language, but the whistles, tones, and clicks are more than enough to give them character and emotions. It’s so clever, and again, so ambitious.
10. Define Dancing
Yes, I am going to argue that this single scene is a reason why WALL·E is up there with the Pixar greats.
If someone were to ask me to pick a favourite Pixar scene, after much inner turmoil, I would probably say Define Dancing. The scene where WALL·E and EVE dance in space. It sounds simple and uneventful (and maybe that’s partly why I’m so in love with it), but it’s also the epitome of everything that I admire about the movie. Dialogue takes a back seat and gives way to storytelling through sensitive animation and moving, swelling music. It’s the high point of the beautifully unconventional love story. We thought this iconic scene was such a perfect example of everything that WALL·E did right that it perfectly exemplifies why it’s one of the best Pixar movies, all on its own.
Are you going to celebrate WALL·E‘s 10th anniversary by watching it this evening? We guarantee it will only make your day better!