The film begins with a long opening scene that shows the Earth from outer space and slowly zooms in to show a land of skyscrapers that are all constructed out of garbage that has been neatly compacted into cubes. The land is uninhabited but for one lone creature, a solar-powered robot named WALL-E. He’s a trash collector and a compactor. He spends his days zooming around scooping up trash, compressing it into cubes and placing them neatly into piles. He finds things as he works – a bra, a rubber ducky, a set of car keys, a ball and paddle, even an engagement ring – and fiddles and plays with each item to pass the time and to break the monotony of his dreary routine. He scoots around squeaking and rattling as he goes, yet says nothing. He sighs and shows signs of weariness and loneliness and scavenges a few treasures from the debris. At night, he returns to a big storage area that he calls home with a lunchbox in hand and adds his latest items – a rubix cube and a fork – to his collection that he has festooned with Christmas lights. At home, he watches Hello, Dolly! and is enthralled by the actors’ handholding and tries to replicate their hands with his own. He removes the treads from his tired wheels, rolls himself into his rest position and gives himself a little swing to start a gentle rocking before going into sleep mode. There is no dialogue, but you barely notice because the opening scene is visually stunning and WALL-E simply captivates you.
There’s a longing, a curiosity and a humanity that can be felt in the way WALL-E expresses his personality and his feelings through body language and through his binocular-sized eyes that evoke so much. It’s impossible not to feel affection for WALL-E from the first moment you see him wheeling along, alone and rummaging through the trash with only a cockroach for company, through until the film’s end when WALL-E finds true love. I can’t say enough about the film. It’s an incredible creation that succeeds on every level despite its minimal dialogue. It’s visually stunning and absolutely heart-warming. All anyone has to say to get me to smile is “WALL-E.”