Fr. Joel Life on Planet Earth

I just came back from an early showing of the spectacular new PIXAR film “WALL-E”. I have to confess that I am a big fan of Pixar films. They have a genius for attention to detail and for creating compelling characters with real personality. Wall-E is no exception. It opens on the planet Earth in approximately the year 2800. The huge corporate conglomerate B-n-L (Buy n Large) is cleaning up mountains of trash left on planet Earth. At least, they began the clean-up, but now only one little robot is left working. Meanwhile, as we have made the planet uninhabitable, the last remaining humans are out in space. They float around on flying chairs with screens in front of them, imprisoned by their own sedentariness. The world unfolds slowly following a day in the life of Wall-E. He has developed a creative curiosity that begins to affect everyone he meets.

People who have studied Theology of the Body will be amazed by the unfolding plot. In the midst of his solitude, Wall-E is suddenly confronted with a new being, a dangerous but fascinating robot on some kind of special mission. The plot hinges on the ‘gift of life’ which must be guarded and protected. In the midst of a depressing future, life brings not only hope but also a new creation.

Our particular showing was interrupted mid-way by technical difficulties. At first I thought it was intentional — in the film, the humans discover themselves only when their ever-present entertainment screen is interrupted. Our audience experienced the same thing and were frustrated by it. The boy in front of me whipped out his cell phone and started playing games. Perhaps modern man cannot live without a screen in front of him. As a final kind of irony, movie goers were offered a free Chinese-made Wall-E watch (pictured above), with advertisements for an upcoming Disney movie. You might think that promoters would avoid giving out junk when the movie is about the build-up of trash. Ultimately, the bleak backdrop of a trashed world is overcome by a love that is willing to welcome life. I highly recommend this movie. WALL-E is all about what it means to be human.