The Film Wall-e As A Contrast To Silent Films

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The film WALL-E directed by Andrew Stanton follows a trash compactor robot named WALL-E who is now collecting all the garbage of an uninhabitable Earth. Humans haven’t resided in Earth over 700 years and have been sent to space by the Buy n Large (BnL) corporation to space to enjoy life on hover seats getting everything handed to them. WALL-E’s only friend on Earth is a cockroach until EVE comes in. She is a robot sent from the BnL corporation from space to look for life source on Earth. WALL-E is intrigued by EVE and shows her all the cool human garbage he has collected including a plant that he places in a boot. EVE takes the plant and BnL take EVE back to space to which WALL-E follows. Sound plays an interesting role in this film because there isn’t much dialogue. The characters speak through body language and robotic sounds. This film is a good contrast to silent films as it has similar comedic styles and shows the emotions through body language. WALL-E falls in love with EVE and wants to hold her hand but she doesn’t understand these human emotions until she gets know WALL-E throughout the film in which she reciprocates these feelings. It’s interesting how silent films from the 1920s and WALL-E which debut in 2008 have similar experiences when it comes to love regardless if they are human or robots.

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According to Peter Burger in “Theorizing Modernism”, “For Greenberg, modernism is an artistic movement capable of authentically expressing the experience of the contemporary world. While he holds that the most important values of modernism are authenticity and actuality rather than being simply new and different, he sees it as an essentially historical phenomenon embedded in the aesthetic traditions of the history of art.”

The feelings that WALL-E feels for EVE are real and authentic and the way he shows this is authentic to the world he is living in. In 1920s silent films, the way a man would court a woman would be different but the feelings of love would be the same. The movie opens up with a song as the planet Earth shows up on the screen. As the camera goes deeper into the planet, there is garbage all over Earth and the music comes to a silence once the audience sees a clear view of all the garbage on Earth. The sound design is this film was made by Ben Burtt and this sound design helps convey the emotions that WALL E feels and creates the language of the film. One of the most human things is our ability to create languages and it’s interesting how the garbage that WALL-E collects such as the old TV and fire extinguisher and lighters and weird knick knacks helped humanize him. In the beginning of the film, he watches people on the TV dancing and he mimics the feelings and dance with an old garbage can lid. He’s learned human emotions through the garbage left by humans. It’s like the saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. This is shown through the way WALL-E communicates with other robots. He conveys emotions and that in turn gets the other robots to learn and convey human emotion as well. The sound design creates the language of the film which in turn helps get civilization started again back on Earth. It was WALL-E’s humanization of the garbage he’s collected over 700 years that created his own language which help when he went into space and in the BnL spaceship that he understood how to communicate with humans. He helped one human off the floor and back into the hover chair and the human remembered WALL-E’s name. When WALL-E encounters another human, he says hi to her and accidently shut down her holographic screen and she actually notices what is happening around her and notices the pool. Later on, the two humans meet and because of the influence of WALL-E humanization helped the two humans connect and they actually go to enjoy the pool together while the other humans are glued to their holographic screens. 

This film is a cautionary tale of consumerism, environmental impact and human waste. Though it is through the deliberate use of sound design and through the mistakes of humans and their waste that helped rebuild a language through WALL-E to help rebuild society once again and to not repeat the same mistakes. 

16 August 2021

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