I bought WALL-E on Blu-ray the other day. Picture and sound are beautiful of course, but this essay is not on the audiovisual achievement of Pixar. What I find fascinating time after time is the poignancy of his relationship with EVE which is a reflection of human relationship with technology.

The movie is set in a distant future where humans have trashed and abandoned Earth. This in itself is direct criticism of our throw-away society that we live in, which I am very much a culprit in just the same as characters in the movie. The only thing left on Earth is Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth Class or WALL-E for short. The movie quickly establishes that WALL-E is not just a mindless robot; he is in fact quite human.

In fact, WALL-E is portrayed as the most human character in the movie. He shows feelings affection, remorse, happiness, sadness and love. Strangely enough all of these traits are severely lacking in all human characters in the movie. Eventually humans send a robot probe EVE to investigate Earth and look for signs of plant life. This is how WALL-E meets EVE and it is love at first sight. EVE is a modern glossy, white robot, without scratches or dents. It is what a robot would look like if it were designed by Apple. In its form EVE represents culmination of technological advancement and she is a testament to human innovation. WALL-E, in contrast, is last year’s technology, old, useless, replaced by new slick-looking machines.

Now as those who have seen the movie know, WALL-E falls in love with EVE. This in itself is the irony, contradiction and probably the inescapable truth of human nature. The movie constantly goes out of its way to offer subtle and blatant commentary that what we are doing is bad and we have lost our most human traits. We are a throw-away society, we trashed the planet, we are fat, spoiled, stupid, and not worthy of the natural wealth of this planet which we have just squandered.

Yet, WALL-E falls in love with her. He falls in love with EVE, the indirect and direct outcome of all these qualities which make humans so ‘bad’. It is such a complete contradiction that I never seem to quite understand. Throughout the movie WALL-E suffers at the hands of imperfect humans and advanced machines we created to do our jobs, yet even though his suffering is caused by these things he yearns for them.

In a way, WALL-E is us, the human race. We (humans) are aware of the consequences of our actions, whether they are on a personal or global scale. Yet despite being aware of consequences there seems to be a uniquely human inertia to change. WALL-E himself fails to change and is a victim of the same inertia and flaws which plague humans. The movie does not pass judgment on this. WALL-E’s actions and emotions are neither good nor bad. His actions are human.