What if mankind had to leave Earth and somebody forgot to turn the last robot off? After hundreds of years doing what he was built for, WALL•E discovers a new purpose in life when he meets a sleek search robot named EVE. EVE comes to realize that WALL•E has inadvertently stumbled upon the key to the planet's future, and races back to space to report to the humans. Meanwhile, WALL•E chases EVE across the galaxy and sets into motion one of the most imaginative adventures ever brought to the big screen.
The filmmakers decided that WALL•E should owe a silent debt to both R2-D2 and Buster Keaton, cinematic predecessors who proved how much can be conveyed without words. The robot would be the loneliest character Pixar had worked with, and the filmmakers crafted ways for him to perform the first act entirely in pantomime.
For the first time, a Pixar film featured brief scenes with live actors. While the studio had broken all kinds of ground in computer animation, the prospect of working on a traditional live-action set was enough to get the crew excited. Along with the rare chance to coach performances and see immediate results. the Pixar team was able to enjoy some serious catering.
WALL•E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) is the last robot left on Earth, programmed to clean up the planet, one trash cube at a time. However, after 700 years, he’s developed one little glitch—a personality. He’s extremely curious, highly inquisitive, and a little lonely.
EVE (Extra-Terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) is a sleek, state-of-the-art probe-droid. She’s fast, she flies, and she’s equipped with a laser gun. EVE, also called Probe One by the captain of the Axiom (the enormous luxury mother ship which houses thousands of displaced humans), is one of a fleet of similar robots sent to Earth on an undisclosed scanning mission.
M-O (Microbe-Obliterator) is a cleaner-bot programmed to clean anything that comes aboard the Axiom that is deemed a “foreign contaminant.” M-O travels speedily around the Axiom on his roller ball, cleaning the dirty objects he encounters.
Auto is the Axiom’s autopilot, who has piloted the ship through all of its 700 years in space. A carefully programmed robot in the form of the ship’s steering wheel, Auto’s manner is cold, mechanical, and seemingly dutiful to the captain. Unknown to all the Axiom crew, a hidden mandate exists in Auto’s programming. Auto is determined to execute these secret orders at any cost, regardless of the consequences for the inhabitants of the Axiom.
Captain is the current commander of the Axiom. Trapped in a routine, like WALL•E, the captain longs for a break in the tiresome cycle of his so-called life. His uneventful duties are simply checking and rechecking the ship’s status with Auto, the autopilot. When he is informed of a long-awaited discovery by one of the probe-droids, he discovers his inner calling to become the courageous leader he never could have imagined and plots a new course for humanity.
John and Mary are two of the humans living on the Axiom, where they have settled into a life of pampered luxury. The arrival of WALL•E jolts them from their daily routines and causes them to realize the existence of one another, and that there may be more to life than floating around on their high-tech deck chairs.
"Science fiction typically involves a fantasy tale, often set in space or the future: therefore, everything (and I mean everything) is made up. And almost every member of our cast is a robot. The questions and demands of this world were nearly as infinite as space itself. But the goal was always clear—to make us believe this world already existed and that we, the filmmakers, had just simply found it," recalls director Andrew Stanton.
Set in a time and place yet to exist, WALL•E required an entirely original language of sound. Because the film featured few humans and almost no traditional dialogue, every beep or clank would have to mean something. To answer the challenge, the filmmakers turned to the father of modern sound design, legendary Star Wars veteran
The dystopian planet of WALL•E was a blend of the fantastic and familiar. Audiences needed to recognize Earth but also understand how things had gone wrong on such a massive scale. In a short scene that followed WALL•E on his daily routine, the filmmakers wanted to reveal the planet's history in entirely visual terms. Dubbed “The Walk Home,” the segment used 10 of the most complicated sets ever created by Pixar, at the time, to tell a wordless, one-minute story.
Even a robot on a dystopian planet needs a place to call home. At first WALL•E’s truck is enlivened only by a cockroach and a Hello, Dolly! video. The atmosphere changes when EVE comes in. “We wanted it to feel really romantic,” explains Danielle Feinberg, director of photography for lighting. “So he plugs in a cord and turns on the Christmas lights he’s got strung all over and you immediately feel we’re in this nice, cozy intimate interior and this is WALL•E’s date night.“
Every film presents new opportunities for Pixar to interpret and design environments, imaginary or not. Using computers makes the art design choices as limitless as outer space. For WALL•E, the goal was not to reinvent space but to make design choices to enhance the story. The filmmakers wanted to ensure the audiences would be immersed in the story's action so they made a design choice to cheat the stars closer to camera than they would actually be in space so that the stars would move in the frame and allow the viewer to easily perceive the movement
of the characters.
The luxury spaceship Axiom cuts an impressive profile. But unlike the mammoth space vehicles in most science fiction epics, it wasn’t designed to inspire fear or engage in deep space battle. Instead the Pixar team envisioned the last refuge of a consumer culture, a self-contained world built by the Buy n' Large Corporation, loaded with excess and wandering adrift with the remnants of human race.
A colorscript is a sequence of small pastel drawings or paintings used to emphasize color in each scene and establish a
film's visual language.
"I started by separating the two worlds using color. Earth is dusty, high contrast, and monochromatic, to support the idea that WAL•E’s life is drab and never changing. Then as EVE arrives and WALL•E cozies up to her, the colors become a little warmer. When we get to the Axiom it’s all about sterility…the passengers don’t have to think. The colors are more artificial, more planned, more consumer oriented. It’s not gaudy, but there’s a lot more color in Act Two than most people anticipate," explains production designer Ralph Eggleston.