Listen to our WALL-E episode on:
In 45 episodes of Beyond The Box Set, we recent discovered that we had never covered an entirely animated movie. So, in the spirit of the New Year (and because Harry happened to be watching it at the time) we decided to kick off 2018 with a film that many consider to be one of the greatest animations of the 21st century so far – Pixar’s 2008 sci-fi fable WALL-E.
Written and directed by Andrew Stanton and Jim Reardon, WALL-E marks the point at which Pixar ceased to be judged against the standards of rival animation studios such as DreamWorks and Blue Sky Studios, and instead had to reckon with their own reputation for delivering movies that not only entertained small children, but also functioned as boundary-pushing cinematic art.
In fact, watching WALL-E nearly a decade on, it’s debatable to what extent the film is a children’s movie at all. It’s bright, colourful and the surface storyline is both charmingly simple and entirely child-friendly, but similarly to Pixar’s subsequent hit Inside Out, it incorporates deeper, darker themes that would likely go over the heads of its ostensible target audience, particularly in the grim depiction of earth as a grim wasteland, abandoned to its fate by the last remnants of humanity, who have devolved into barely mobile creatures of pure consumption as they aimlessly orbit their former home.
Although delightful visual gags abound – from the minor robots that populate the Axion Starliner to WALL-E’s determined passion for the trigger-happy EVE – the movie is also unusually thoughtful and slow moving for an animation. The first thirty minutes or so is virtually dialogue-free, relying on Pixar’s groundbreaking animation techniques and WALL-E’s limited robotic vocabulary to communicate feeling. Even when the human characters enter the narrative, the pace remains fairly relaxed, with little in the way of genuine peril or adventure.
This lack of action or broad-strokes characterisation may explain why, despite its success, there has never been much appetite for a WALL-E sequel. At heart it’s a whimsical formal experiment wrapped in an allegory about the humanity’s relationship to the planet and to technology. In terms of what happened next for the characters, there isn’t much to see.
This is no bad thing of course, many of the greatest movies ever made were built around closed narratives, and time may well prove WALL-E worthy of standing among them. But closed narratives aren’t our business here at Beyond The Box Set, so in this episode we set ourselves the task of coming up with some spin-off ideas. You can tune in using the links above to find out what we came up with – including a prequel that explores WALL-E’s creation story, and a sequel short that revisits WALL-E and EVE as they take their relationship to the logical next step – parenthood.
Beyond The Box Set is available on most major podcasting platforms including iTunes, Stitcher, aCast and Podbean. If you’re a fan of the show please hit subscribe for a new episode every Friday morning, and leave us a review on your preferred podcatcher – it’s the best way to help us to attract new listeners.
If you have a sequel idea for WALL-E, feedback on this episode or the show in general, or if you’d just like to say hi, you can get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Google+, or by leaving a comment underneath this blog post.