It fascinates me, over the years of expressing my love for this film, that there are a number of men who agree with me, but most women I have spoken to think that it's okay, but not one of the greatest films ever made.
This is my guess as to why:
Wall-E works best as a fable about love. The environmental stuff is cool, the side characters are fun, but that's not where it tugs the heart. Yet this love-fable is really from a male perspective. Wall-E is how many men see themselves at their best. Working hard at an impossible task; lonely and romance is idealistic; we love our hobbies, but no one really understands. Finally, we fall in love, and the woman is strong, but distant... possibly even destructive (with her words, perhaps not with a laser cannon). But if a man is loyal and caring, even when she is unresponsive, he can eventually win her love.
This movie, along with perhaps City Lights, 50 First Dates, and Knocked Up (all speaking toward bumbling and perseverance winning the romance) give a particular male perspective to the idealized romance. The female version of this we have seen many times in romantic comedies-- Sleepless in Seattle, Pretty Woman. One isn't more realistic than the other, but the perspectives differ.
So call Wall-E the male (nerdy) version of a romantic comedy. But the other aspect of this film is the silence. With but a few words, all was communicated. Which makes me wonder, can we, as humans, actually recognize love without words? Even with words, how do we know it?
|You can show you care by making a Wall-E sandwich!|
In the film, Eve didn't recognize Wall-E's love at first. She thought he was cute, an idiot, imaginative, unique. The indications of his love were there when she was conscious-- the symbol of the flame, the scenes from Hello Dolly! But it wasn't until she saw his everyday perseverance and care. Perhaps his actions were sometimes useless or silly, but every one showed a concern and an over-the-top desire to please, to treat, to respect, to assist in achieving the other's goals. Suddenly, Eve understood. Perhaps for the first time she understood what love really was. Not the hand-holding or the dancing, but the everyday concern.
That kind of love doesn't happen right away. It doesn't fit the quick mold that many movies require for falling in love. It takes time and patience. And this is why Wall-E is one of the great pieces of cinema. It doesn't talk about love, it shows it. It takes the times to display love in an entertaining fashion-- all with using as few words as possible. Amazing as it is touching.