Last updated on February 5, 2023.
Have you seen the Disney-Pixar movie WALL-E? It features two cute little robots that mostly communicate through a few words and voice inflections. There’s very little dialogue so the story is told visually and beautifully. I found it to be a powerful movie. Here’s the trailer for it:
I first saw this movie about a year ago. I borrowed it from the library so that I could watch it with my son, and I was really blown away by the film! The day after, I was talking to a colleague about it and he told me that he can gauge a person by their reaction to that movie. He said if they’re indifferent about it, that’s likely how they are about the environment as well. But if a person reacts emotionally, it says a lot about them. While you can’t judge a person by a single film reaction, of course, that conversation has always stuck in my mind.
There’s a lot about WALL-E that stuck with me.
So I watched it again over the weekend.
Please note: the rest of this post does contain spoilers. So if you haven’t watched it, please go watch it and then come back and finish reading this post!
Even though it’s a decade old already, it’s still completely relevant. WALL-E is cleaning up the trash on Earth, which has become one giant wasteland and landfill. Humans made so much trash and polluted the air so badly that all of the plant life died off and they had to move to space! It takes place 700 years in the future. The little robot is lonely and has only one friend, a little cockroach (because cockroaches can survive everything, right?).
He finds interesting objects while cleaning up the trash, such as silverware, Zippo lighters, and Rubik’s cubes. The robot discovers a squeaky dog toy and a bra, which he mistakes for a mask. He catalogs and sorts the items in his home (like Ariel does in The Little Mermaid, collecting items from shipwrecks and keeping them in her secret cove.) WALL-E even has one of the singing Big Mouth Billy Bass plaques that were popular years ago. He has recovered one videotape of Hello, Dolly! from the late 1960s, from which he learns about emotions and human interactions.
The air is cloudy, there’s very little water and no plant life. The whole premise of the movie is that once plant life reappears on Earth, humans can return. WALL-E meets EVE, a robot that has come to Earth to search for plant life. He finds a plant and gives it to her as a token of love. But this is her own mission and it spawns a journey that lays out the history of corporate greed, mass consumerism, and the unsustainable disposable economy and lifestyle that humans created. So much stuff and waste that the Earth became polluted and uninhabitable.
That sounds like the path we’re on right now.
Sadly, in the movie, the humans, once in space, did not change their behaviors. They rocketed their trash further into space instead of learning from the past. This behavior was propelled by corporate giant B&L, a fictional sort of Walmart or Amazon that gained a monopoly on Earth and gained control of everything by the time the humans left for space.
This movie really hit home.
Truly, though, if robots can get it, why can’t we?
I think many of us do get it. I think the more people that learn about the worldwide waste crisis, the more people will want to change things. So help spread the word and educate others. Let your children watch this movie. Share it with a friend. Leave me a comment below. And thanks for reading!