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Wall-E: Why the Pixar film's message is even more relevant today

The animation was released in 2008

'Wall-E'. (Credit: Pixar)
Eve and WALL-E in Wall-E (Pixar)

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Wall-E, one of Pixar's most beloved films, was released in cinemas across the UK and Ireland 15 years ago today, marking a wonderful milestone for the animation.

The film follows the title character, a lonely robot left on Earth to clear the planet of trash. His solitary existence is changed when the mysterious, gleaming white robot Eve arrives on the planet, and when she departs with a seedling found by Wall-E among the rubbish, he decides to join her for an adventure across the galaxy.

Read more: Every Pixar film ranked from worst to best according to fans

Like all good films, Wall-E had an important message at its heart and despite the amount of time that has passed since its release the film feels even more relevant now than it was in 2008.

The climate crisis

WALL-E 2008 de Andrew Stanton Prod DB © Pixar Animation Studios - Walt Disney Pictures dessin anime; animation; cartoon; science fiction; sci fi
WALL-E on Earth in Wall-E (Pixar)

In the world of Wall-E, humans have left Earth a wasteland after completely depriving it of its natural resources and neglecting the planet in favour of corporate greed by 2805.

Wall-E and his fellow robots were left behind to clean up the mess (quite literally) but our protagonist is the only one left by the time the story catches up to him.

The message there is an obvious one: humans should think less about rampant consumerism and instead focus on protecting the planet while we still can.

With climate crises happening all over Earth, from wildfires to flash floods, it is something society should be thinking about more closely before the planet is left in the state it is in Wall-E.

Humanity's fate

WALL-E 2008 de Andrew Stanton Prod DB © Pixar Animation Studios - Walt Disney Pictures dessin anime; animation; cartoon; science fiction; sci fi
A human on the starliner in Wall-E (Pixar)

It's revealed that humanity quit Earth on a spaceship to wait for the planet to be cleaned up, but when that failed, life on the starliner became the norm.

On the spaceship, people live most of their lives sat in a chair that takes them wherever they need to go and also provides them with all the entertainment they need to never want to leave.

Read more: Elemental review: Pixar film is not a firecracker but its heart is in the right place

This feels reminiscent of the growth of the digital age, where apps like TikTok, Instagram, Netflix, and more demand our attention and can deprive us of real connection (more on that later).

Humanity is so all-consumed by their phones and other digital media that people are at risk of losing themselves to it, like the humans in Wall-E.

WALL-E 2008 de Andrew Stanton Prod DB © Pixar Animation Studios - Walt Disney Pictures dessin anime; animation; cartoon; science fiction; sci fi
A human using an AI system in Wall-E (Pixar)

In the film, robots do humanity's bidding but also become the source of their potential demise, because it is an AI programme that stops humans on the starliner from returning home to repopulate the Earth.

The rights and wrongs of using AI has become quite the hot topic of debate in recent months, and while AI programmes are being utilised more often and even appearing in films like Mission: Impossible, Wall-E suggests that society shouldn't be so reliant on it.

If humans become so dependant on AI then they may lose the ability to do many things themselves, and it certainly feels like a relevant message to take in.

Losing real connections

Original Film Title: WALL·E.  English Title: WALL·E.  Film Director: ANDREW STANTON.  Year: 2008. Credit: PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS/WALT DISNEY PICTURES / Album
WALL·E and EVE in Wall-E (Pixar)

Another downside to living on the starliner is that humans spend all their time looking at screens and use it as their way to connect with those around them, rather than turning their gaze beyond it to talk to one another in person.

With the advent of social media losing real connections is something of an issue, because while society is more connected than ever, people can also be quite distant because of the addictive nature of technology.

Technology can hamper our ability to be present with one another, so easy is it to fall into the habit of checking social media or to look at one's phone when together, and Wall-E predicted this issue. It is noticeable that the only meaningful relationship in the film is between two robots.

So, what can we learn from Wall-E? That we should care about our planet because we've only got one, and that connecting with one another is more important than how much media we consume.

Wall-E is available to watch on Disney+ now.

Watch the trailer for Wall-E