Happy Earth Day everybody! Every year in celebration of Earth Day, I like to watch one of my favourite Disney movies, WALL•E. I know it doesn’t do much to help our current situation of climate change and global warming, but every time I watch this movie, my love for this planet is invigorated.
If you haven’t seen WALL•E, I’m really sorry. You need to do yourself a service and spend an hour and a half of your life experiencing this movie. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, this story of robot love will warm your soul and your heart. And, just like any other good movie, it reveals a hard truth that we as humans are going to have to face: we are hurting our home.
In a very distant future, in the year 2100 (roughly), mankind has abandoned the planet in hopes of a line of robots, known as WALL•Es (Waste Allocation Load Lifter • Earth-Class), will compress all of the garbage and clean the face of the planet. All of the garbage, along with other probable factors as well, has polluted the atmosphere so much to the point of making the planet unlivable. As the robots worked hard, humans have left on a luxurious space cruise, the Axiom.
As time went on, approximately 700 years after humans have left, the character WALL•E is the only unit left on the planet. All of the other robot units have run their due course into permanent shut down. The adorable yellow robot lives everyday salvaging through the garbage for interesting trinkets and toys, from spare parts for himself, to a Rubik’s Cube, to a spork. Through his travels, before where we meet WALL•E, he finds an old VHS tape of the movie “Hello, Dolly!” that he continually watches, more specifically a dance sequence, and the scene where the two protagonists are singing to each other and reach out to hold hands. This begins our protagonist’s infactuation with holding hands. As a complete stranger to the way of human life, WALL•E is able to connect to this moment of love, an very human and essential emotion.
This moment is mirrored later on in the film after the Captain of the Axiom meets the expressive yellow robot. After discovering dirt, or “earth”, in his hand, the Captain falls into the deep rabbit hole of Google searching and related searches. He spends hours and hours learning about earth and farming and hoedowns, learning about what life was like before the Axiom on Earth. He doesn’t gain the need to hold hands, but he gains a fascination with plant life and pizza (as one should have). He watches videos from Earth with great fascination, mirroring WALL•E’s unthralled face earlier in the movie.
WALL•E and the Captain see how beautiful life was before pollution and garbage took over the surface of the planet. And they fall in love. They both wish to experience these moments for themselves, and to do that, they have to risk their current ways of life. WALL•E leaves his directive on Earth to pursue EVE. The Captain fights against Auto to steer the ship back to Earth and help make the world green once again.
They have the means to survive. They have their jobs and their duties, they have the parts, the fuel/food, and even the entertainment they will ever need, but all of that stuff is worth leaving behind for the sake of a more fruitful and fulfilling future, full of love and possibilities at home (whether home means Earth or with EVE).
WALL•E (and of course the Captain) act on their intention too. Anyone who has seen WALL•E will know that there is actually not a lot of dialogue in this movie. Everything is told through visual images of the world and through the actions of the characters with minimal dialogue. In fact, the first exchange made in the film is 22 minutes into the film. The entire exchange consists of the words: “directive”, “classified”, “WALL•E”, and “EVE” (eeev-aa). It wouldn’t be for another 17 minutes after that for an actual conversation between human characters. Why is this statistic worth pointing out? Not only is it just interesting storytelling tool, telling everything through visuals, but this is a deliberate choice to support the film’s theme: the need to act.
WALL•E acts immediately to follow EVE in the rocket to the Axiom ship. The Captain acts to deactivate Auto after seeing how devastated Earth has now become and wants to go back home to return it to it’s former glory. We need to act. There is countless research on the Internet all about global warming, climate change, depleting resources, and more, about how our current way of life is not sustainable for us. We claim to be enjoying the world’s resources to its fullest, living the “best” life we can, but we are not the only creatures on his planets, nor will we ever be the only ones. Not only is this unsustainable, but we are turning our beautiful green Earth into a dusty brown wasteland.
The reason I watch WALL•E every Earth Day is to help remind me of the beautiful life we have on this planet while living through a busy hectic life. We have a lot of gifts and opportunities to grow (plants and [as] people), hold hands, and love, and if we do not remain mindful of these experiences, we will become passive towards our home. We will become ignorant to our world changing around us to the point of not noticing the disappearing natural beauty. The movie can be summed up in the single line: “I don’t want to survive, I want to live.” If we want to live, we have to remember we are not the only ones here. We cannot forget to care for our planet and for each other if we hope to truly live.