The true test of a great film is whether or not it is able to affect you as deeply the tenth time you see as it did the first time. WALL-E does. When WALL-E, the eponymous robot hero of his own Pixar feature, first takes the hand, or robot facsimile of same, of his robot lady love EVE, it produces the same lump in the throat every time. The first time EVE visits WALL-Eâs makeshift home, itâs not just the technical wizardry that allows the colored strings of lights hanging there to reflect so perfectly on EVEâs surface that registers, itâs the sense of wonder that the entire sequence carries, from the those lights, to WALL-Eâs eagerness to impress, to EVEâs gradual warming to the peculiar little robot, that all coalesce into a scene that has a powerful emotional resonance as well as a striking beauty. No matter how familiar the film becomes with repeated viewings, its essential warmth, the humanity, if you will, remains fresh and alive. Humanity is the story here. WALL-E, abandoned for centuries on a desolate planet Earth, becomes the catalyst for a reawakened humanity with his own very personal quest for true love.
The extras in the 3-disc DVD set are as terrific as the film. That starts with BURN-E, an animated short that explores the adventures of one of the film’s minor characters. The feature film shows only the little bot’s fleeting brush with WALL-E and EVE as they venture outside the cruise ship Axiom and into space itself. BURN-E, however, has his own destiny, often frustrating, always quirky, as he diligently attempts repairs to the ships surface. As he is a tiny part of the story of the heroes of the piece, so they make cameos in his tale.
The commentary track by director and co-writer Andrew Stanton is a thorough look at the development process at Pixar in general, and the one involved in bringing WALL-E to the screen. Specifics include how this was different from the other projects he’s worked on, and how influences as diverse at Peter Gabriel went into shaping the finished product. Deleted sequences amplify that, with two looks at how inspiration can strike at any point in the production process, and what happens when itâs at a test screening. Both extras also delve fearlessly into the existential underpinnings of WALL-Es existence. One explains how to make a cockroach, the one that is WALL-E’s only pal on Earth, cute.
A special treat in this release is THE PIXAR STORY, a documentary by Lesley Iwerks, about the visionary, and sometimes seemingly insane, people who stuck by Pixar when it seemed like a losing proposition. For a full review of the doc, click here.
WALL-E is more than a feel-good film, though it is certainly that, too. Itâs a film whose effects are more far-reaching than that, encompassing as it does the big questions of the meaning of life, and the stewardship of nature, it is just as meticulous in discovering the sweetness in the slapstick, and the fascination of a future that includes such intriguing delicacies as a cupcake in a cup.