James and I had not seen a movie in a movie theater since before Cecilia was born, or to be more specific, fall of 2005. I remember we saw The Island, which wasn’t bad, not great, but not bad. We had thought of taking Cecilia to see The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything but the timing didn’t work out and, as we saw it in the hotel room in Denver, it was a disappointing movie anyway, so it is just as well. We had toyed with the idea of taking her to see this summer’s Pixar film but it was on a whim today that we said, “Why not?”
So, Felicity in her carrier, Cecilia excited, curious and scared all at once, and with diaper bag in tow, we went to the movies and saw WALL-E. Felicity sat in her carrier through the commercials and previews, at the end of which Cecilia declared the movie was “Done!” We informed her it was just beginning. She munched on popcorn and Kissables. Both girls were really good and watched the first half or so of the movie. Around that time Felicity got grumpy and Cecilia wanted to get up and move. So I nursed Felicity and James put Cecilia in his lap and both girls fell asleep and slept through to the credits.
Afterwards, Cecilia declared it was “fun” and kept asking to go “again.” I told her we would sometime but not today.
<<<WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD>>>
WALL-E has to be the most inspiring environmental film I’ve seen. It is not preachy. It doesn’t lecture about how we are driving the earth to be covered in ice with stupid looking wolves (The Day After Tomorrow) or blow up or anything. Rather, its approach is what we could lose and might miss, such as growing plants and food and blue skies and rushing rivers, etc.
The movie is, as the director says, above all, a love story. It is the story of WALL-E and EVE, two robots, each designed with a different task to do on command. WALL-E has been working and doing his task of compacting garbage on Earth for 700 years and his only companion is a cockroach (the only cockroach in my life I could CONSIDER letting live) when he meets EVE. He befriends her and tries to show her how to hold hands as Michael Crawford and Marianne McAndrew do in Hello Dolly but EVE isn’t quite ready yet.
The theme of the movie is fairly simple and summed up in one line by the space ship’s captain: “I don’t want to just survive, I want to live!” WALL-E was doing just fine surviving and doing his job, but it is through loving EVE and her return of love that he lives. Sitting using technology and never experiencing nature or other people may be surviving, but it is not living. WALL-E, EVE and the human beings who have been surviving for 700 years on the space ship want more than just survival. They want to live. It made me think of the Gospel of John: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
It is through love that we truly live. Loving the earth we experience its wonder. Loving other people we experience what is truly human. Loving Christ we experience the divine. It is only through love and what makes us truly human that we have life more abundantly.
Incidentally, I also found the film to have a minor, but obvious theme. It is anti-abortion. On a desolate earth there are two robots: WALL-E and EVE, which are clearly designed as male and female, and I don’t think it has escaped anyone that while EVE stands for Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator, it is the name of the Biblical first woman and mother of all the living. When WALL-E shows EVE a small plant he found, she automatically takes the plant and secures it within herself. Once on the space ship, EVE is given special importance because of the living thing inside her. She is taken to the captain of the ship who learns that finding a plant on earth means that all the people can return to Earth. EVE, then, carries within her life and a special life that will populate the earth. A conspiracy is revealed and I will avoid as much detail as possible, but the technology aboard ship tries to steal and destroy the plant that is the people’s hope. EVE and WALL-E repeatedly must save this tiny and frail life from the technology that would destroy it and keep people from really living. EVE does all she can to protect this tiny helpless life that is the hope of the future, just as every unborn child is the hope of our future. I don’t know to what extent anyone else has picked up on this theme, or wanted to, but I didn’t have to use much imagination to see it.
I must say we all quite enjoyed WALL-E. It is a movie about life, what is truly human and what is truly living. I recommend it. It is fun and funny, has some beautiful music and affords a foundation for a beautiful and wonderful discussion with children of all ages. I also recommend staying at least through the first part of the credits – it is quite beautiful.