19
Sep 09

My Ten Favourite Films Of 2008: 5: Wall-E

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Why is the UK always the very last territory that Pixar films are released in? What is wrong with our summer holidays that means they shun us? I was in France in July and Up was happily doing what I believe is called Boffo business everywhere. Here, we still have to wait a few more weeks. Sure the summer schedule is rammed full of exploding action heroes, but one assumes that the Pixar brand has earned more than enough trust with the entire world that they could make a Charlie Chaplin film starring a robot ripped off of Short Circuit and people will go and see it. And they did.

Wall-E is all the things usually trumped up as Pixar’s high points. Story led, not frenetic, well plotted and beautifully designed. A wonderfully suspenseful love story / fairy tale (its a fairytale love story) which shows a healthy regard for the joys of musicals. Perhaps its also a massive anti-consumerism, green diatribe in disguise, but give me a side order of politics with my kids films and I won’t argue. Perhaps the only thing wrong with it is the speed in which the near silent first half of the film becomes the slightly more frenetic “rescue” half of the film, but in that dilemma Wall-E is battling the difficulty of sustaining a silent comedy over feature length. And not just a silent movie, Wall-E is one of the best Charlie Chaplin films ever made.

It only struck me recently that the lonely, slightly broken, garbage robot is actually just a futuristic version of The Little Tramp. This causes problems because, like many of my generation, I don’t really like Chaplin. The sentimentality and the bathos of his performances pass me by, and I just see millions of Chaplin imitators doing business with a cane. I’ve just read Glen David Gold’s book SUnnyside, which certainly humanises Chaplin a bit more, but it won’t convince me that his films are actually that funny. But then much of Wall-E isn’t that funny, but it is heartwarming, romantic and a good story well told. Indeed if you want funny, well the spin-off short Burn-E might be a better bet (and sort of tells the entire story as well so if you haven’t seen Wall-E, perhaps miss it – but it shows how a one reel silent comedy works well).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Y46NxP6b0

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