I am so not a Pixar person. I was and always will be Studio Ghibli guy. I probably don’t know what I am talking about because I have more Pixar movies in my Top 100(3) than Ghibli(just 1) but I am still Ghibli person because I love their traditional style of animation than Pixar’s computer generated ones and also because when I update my top 100, which should be very soon, that Ghibli film will be head and shoulders above every other animated film. In case you don’t know, the film I am talking about is Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies(1988). There is only Pixar film that had any chance of putting up a fight for that top spot – Wall-E(2008). Off course, it is my favourite Pixar film and one of my favourite animated films but to tell you the truth, I had not seen it since I first saw it in 2008. I really needed to correct that and also see if it does put up any fight to Grave. My ‘favourites’ series also needed a little animated favour, so I decided to take all these opportunities and here we are!
I doubt if there is anyone who doesn’t know what this film is about, because it is one of the best animated films made. But just in case, there is someone leaving under the rock and reading this blog from there – It is a love story of two robots. In the distant future, where Earth is nothing more than a big, glorious dump incapable of sustaining growth of any leaving organism and with everyone worth leaving already gone, Wall-E is a small garbage collecting robot left behind to clean up the place while everyone is gone. He spends his days making the cubes of garbage that is lying everywhere and making some artistic structures with them. His favourite part of the whole process is collecting the trinkets that catch his eyes from the trash. His trailer is full of such junk but that’s his treasure. One fine day while going about his own business, he witnesses a big, fancy spaceship dropping off a small, cute robot. The instant his eyes fall on that robot, he is absolutely swept of his feet. In his own clumsy way, he tries every trick in his book to impress her. Her name is Eve and she has been dropped on earth as a part of routine to check if there is a chance of any life form sustaining on earth. Incidentally, last addition Wall-E made to his treasure is a plant and an instant he presents that plant to Eve, she stores it inside her in secret compartment, sends a signal to the mother ship and becomes completely unresponsive. Wall-E tries hard to get her to talk, he even takes care of her through everything until one day, same spaceship comes back to take Eve away.
Thinking that she is in trouble, Wall-E somehow even gets onto the ship and reaches Axiom, a ship that he always watches on the big screen on his way to work. On reaching Axiom, Eve is supposed to deposit the proof on possibility of sustaining life on earth, the plant she is carrying, which will start the process of bringing humans back to earth. On reaching Axiom, Wall-E sees humans for the first time and they have all gotten so fat due to lack of any movement at all, thanks to all the technology. Eve is presented in front of the captain of the ship who initiates ‘Operation Recolonize’ but ship’s auto pilot system - aptly name Auto - which pretty much has all the control of ship, has some other directives and tries to hinder them. Wall-E and Eve have to put up a fight to do the right thing. Best thing about Wall-E is even though it is portrayed as a distant future, leaving in a current world it is not that hard to imagine us getting there. It’s not impossible to imagine that we humans will turn this earth into a glorified garbage can and neither is us getting turned into big, fat slobs unable to carry their own weight on their own legs due to the over-dependence on all the technology. Another aspect that Wall-E scores handsomely in is personification of the robots. Making the two robots fall in love itself is the most commendable thing about it but that’s not it. The way Wall-E falls head over heels at first look of Eve, his complete absent minded behaviour trying to impress her with his stupidities and most of all, his tendency to hold on to something as insignificant as his trinkets is something that draws out Wall-E as almost human and I really love that about this movie.
When I first heard about a movie featuring love story of two robots, I wasn’t into it at all. I remember passing on watching it in a theatre for that reason. I only saw it later because of the effusive praise I heard from many of my friends. Given this background, it gets a lot of credit for not only drawing me into this world but making me love it. I have seen people calling it an inferior film because it borrows from other films and I don’t get it. It obviously borrows from many movies, probably most importantly from 2001: A Space Odyssey(1968) with similarities between Hal and Auto. I am sure there are many movies that borrowed something from 2001, almost every movie based in space made since 1968 does. But somehow I deny calling it a strike against these films as long as they aren’t outright copying it; I would rather call it greatness of 2001 to inspire so many. Chaplin’s Tramp is another obvious influence on developing Wall-E’s character and Writer-Director Andrew Stanton even agrees to have watched lot of Chaplin to learn displaying emotions without dialogue. I don’t understand how any of it makes it any inferior. For the first half of the film till Wall-E and Eve reach Axiom, there are no talking characters. It is almost like a silent movie except for the electronic voices in which Wall-E and Eve say each other’s names. However, body language of the two characters, background landscapes and music used is so rich, so detailed that they easily set the right mood.
One of the important reasons I say I prefer Ghibli movies to Pixar is besides being entertaining and adorable; they always have some bigger, universal message behind them, usually related to the environment. To me, a good animated film is something that doesn’t come with age-limit. With this warning to the mankind about possible course of future, Wall-E serves the purpose of giving the message(that's why the title!) and even gives something to big kids to think about. To answer the first question I posed while choosing to focus on Wall-E; No, it is no way better than Grave of the Fireflies or at least I don’t think it is. So, the Grave still remains to be my favourite animated movie and I even see Wall-E falling down a bit in my imminent Top 100 update. But it will still remain to be my favourite Pixar as an incredibly adorable and very well executed story with no age-bar.
Rating(out of 5):