Wall-E …Much Deeper Than it Seems

I’ve always considered Pixar’s films to be deeper than most others, and for many years I made the bold claim that there had to be a Christian somewhere in that studio making right decisions. Then a couple of months ago I came across an article from Christianity Today with interviewer Mark Morning, and discovered that Andrew Stanton, one of the Pixar originals and director of Wall-E and Finding Nemo is a proclaimed born-again Christian, as it shows in his movies. Unfortunately the article has been deleted as it’s so old, but I managed to go around and collect some snippets of it from various sources. Enjoy, and please pray for those brothers and sisters in Hollywood making a difference.

There seem to be some biblical themes in this film. WALL•E is sort of like Adam, the only “guy” on earth, lonely, longing for a companion …

Andrew Stanton: Yes, and that’s certainly why I picked EVE as an appropriate title for the female robot. But “Adam” just didn’t have the underdog ring to it as the main character. WALL•E was a little bit more sad sack—and I could find an acronym that could work for that. But definitely it had that first man, first female theme. But I wasn’t trying to replace man in the bigger story. I just loved the poetic-ness that these two machines held more care for living and loving than humanity had anymore.

There’s also a bit of Noah’s Ark story here, with the humans on the space station, waiting for a chance to repopulate the earth—but having to wait till EVE comes back with plant life to indicate it’s okay.

Stanton: I wasn’t using the Noah’s Ark story as a guide, but through circumstances, I loved the parallels of EVE almost being like this dove, of going down for proof that it’s time to come back. It just worked in that allegory, so I ran with it.

This next snapshot is from: http://lookingcloser.org/2008/06/christianity-todays-mark-moring-interviews-andrew-stanton/

Apparently the idea for Wall-E was first born in 1994?

Stanton: At the time, it wasn’t a whole story. It was just the foundation of a great character‚ and it was literally born from the sentence, “What if humankind left earth and somebody left the last robot on, and it just kept doing the same futile thing forever?” And I thought that was the saddest, loneliest character I ever heard of in my life. [Co-writer] Pete Docter and I loved that idea, and thought we’d love to see a movie like that.

But since we hadn’t even finished Toy Story yet, our next sentence was, “Nobody would ever let us make a movie like that.” And we put it on the shelf and got caught up doing all these other things. But the idea stayed with me all these years, and when I was writing on Nemo, I started thinking about WALL-E again‚ and I couldn’t stop. That’s when I realized that I was attracted to the pure loneliness of this character, and the opposite of loneliness is love‚ so it should be a love story. From then on, suddenly the skies opened and I just couldn’t stop writing.

And I love this…

Moring: Some Christians want more “message movies,” and they want them to be movies where the gospel is preached loud and clear. But when movies get too driven by their agenda, you often end up with a crummy movie.

Stanton: Yeah, I’m right with you on that.

Moring: But guys like you and others at Pixar, and other Christians like Scott Derrickson and Ralph Winter, are bringing biblical themes into the movies without making them feel “preachy.” Where are you on all of that thinking?

Stanton: I agree with what you said. Just because you’re strong in your faith doesn’t mean that you suddenly have to be dumb and pander to a certain audience. When did that become a rule? I think you were given a brain to use it, and I think you were given talents to use it. And so the same intoxicating, seducing talents and cleverness and wisdom that you see in what may be considered “secular” entertainment, there’s no reason that those things should be held back for anything else, I like to think.

Here is another great article that says that Wall-E is not what it seems on the surface. It’s much, much deeper than an environmental movie.

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Published by Andrew Toy

Writer when I'm not being a husband or dad. So mostly just a husband and dad.

94 thoughts on “Wall-E …Much Deeper Than it Seems

  1. Now I want to watch this one again! I loved it the first time. I often tell my kids if they don’t get out and excercise they are going to end up like those folks in that movie. Unable to walk! Thanks for this. With all the movies out their today it is nice to know that a Christian was involved in the production of a good one.

  2. I am a writer and though I write inspirational romance I also write everyday Christian living in my mystery series.
    I love it that the morals of Christian writers such as these you are talking about can penetrate children (and adults) with Godly principles and living moral lives virtually unbeknown to the unbeliever who watches.
    Fortunately, those principles will not go out void into the souls and brains of people watching and taking hold of them. The gospel being preached in parables was just as effective, maybe more effective, than the sterness of the straight law to which the listeners had become jaded. Present the gospel in whatever way will work. One plants, one waters but it is God that gives the increase, God who brings souls unto Himself. Our task is to get the word out.

  3. I must admit I didn’t see the biblical allegories in Wall-E. But you might be interested in my analysis of “The Tree of Life” at goodmenproject.com/arts/the-genesis-of-manhood

  4. Thankyou – a very thoughtful and interesting post – I liked the discussion on how the idea started and was then shaped – I’ll go back to film now 🙂

  5. Nice! I didn’t see all that when I was watching WALL.E. Glad I now see the film in a different light. And it really is great that they can incorporate these themes in movies without making them “preachy,” as mentioned in the article. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  6. I’m a big fan of Pixar films and I’ve never seen any animated film with such suspense as in Toy Story 3. But for reason unknown I don’t quite like Wall-E. Perhaps I need to watch it again.

    1. Like most Pixar films, it took time for it to grow on me. I didn’t like it at all the first time I saw it. But through multiple viewings, it’s becomes just as great as the others, to me.

      1. Hmm. That didn’t happen to me with other Pixar films, though. I did watch movies like Toy Story 3 and Up multiple times but I loved and got the essence of the film in the first time which didn’t happen in case of Wall-E. Maybe it’s a little difficult to understand the film compared to the other Pixar films.

  7. Oh. My. Gosh. Thank you for finding this interview. I had a fleeting thought as I watched Wall-E for the bazillionth time (it’s my son’s favorite; for a time he himself was convinced he was Wall-E), that maybe there was something biblical going on, then thought, “Naaaaah.” Finding Nemo is another favorite here, and now I have to rewatch as I never for a moment thought it could be deeper than it seemed. Thank the Lord for folks like Mr. Stanton, who show rather than tell. Great post!Eve. I love it!

  8. Might be hard to find juvenile entertainment that CAN’T be aligned with the Scriptures… Both tend toward the same elemental themes, seems to me. And mostly, if they deviate from the common morality much, they aren’t likely to make money…

  9. This is one of my favorite movies by Pixar — My husband and I watched this for the first time in 2009 and noticed numerous eerie conincidences of the events in the movie Wall-E and the events of our relationship from 2008-2009. It is nearly identical, even down to the release date for Wall-E….which was the day we first met…ironically. Great Post!

  10. First of all, I liked that movie. I don’t usually enjoy children’s films, but this film definitely had something more to it. I like the idea of him being Adam, because I think the futility of his existence makes him representative of the human condition.

  11. I was compelled to see this movie when it first came out in the theatres and it was a great decision. I also felt an almost apocalyptic tone to it and the values were obviously themed to fit a Christian ideal in the truest sense of the word. Even children could grasp the concepts which made it even more beautiful. I’m glad I was right. Thanks for sharing the additional info.

  12. Reblogged this on Ainsi, j'écris and commented:
    This is really cool. . .
    Wall-E’s creator had a Christian message going in that movie that just clicked to me after reading this article.

    (Culled from adoptingjames.wordpressmcom)

  13. Thank you for sharing this. As a parent, this information makes me sleep better at night especially since my daughter and I love animated movies so much. Wall-E didn’t seem interesting to us at first but when I watched it I really loved it. It had a meaningful story to tell.

  14. Film is an art form like any other, be it painting, photography, literature, theater etc. Like any art form though, ‘art’ is not always, and in many cases, is not very often created through the art form. The art form is just a medium at the end of the day, like a lens in the camera. The lens will not capture a truly great photograph if the photographer does not ‘express’ through it.

    On the topic of this post, there are a lot of hidden messages in film. Great film that is, lets not count films that just try to make money by hiring pretty faces instead of real genuine actors shall we. Wall-E was a great film, in particular, the first 40 mins or so. The reason why it was great for me was because of the emotional weight it had, how it created that emotion through what was practically ‘cartoon characters’ which stereotypicaly cant be taken seriously. It made me feel.

    As for the christian message, yes, the ‘religious undertones’ were for sure visible in the film. Im not a christian myself, technically im an agnostic (though its complicated, if asked do i believe in god, id likely answer yes), but, christian messages and values reflect certain qualities with which i admire. These qualities are often expressed in film, being christian is essentially IMO about being a good person, doing the right thing, standing up for what you believe in etc. I live by these ‘rules’ so to speak, i like how films that put across such messages, the great examples, dont ‘preach’ as was expressed in the interviews referenced in your post. It keeps true then to the message, the moral. If a film preaches, it often washes over the message. Its like describing in great detail what a cow looks and acts like, but really the best way to know that is to just witness and analyse it yourself.

  15. That was a very interesting article. It really deepened my appreciation for Wall-E. I’ll have to re-watch it now. Thanks for coming by to follow my blog at Backyard Philosophy. Keep up the writing. Cheers,

  16. I’ve never watched Wall-E. It just ‘looked like’ ET to me, the pic on the video at the video store. You have me interested now. I love good videos. Now must see 🙂

  17. Hi adoptingjames,

    Thanks for visiting my blog and for the follow. Wall-E is one of my favorites and my 4-year old niece loves this movie as well. Thanks for sharing this.

  18. Thanks for sharing this–love this movie (secret: my favorite is the little guy who has to go fix the light outside the ship and his encounters trying to get it done). Also, thanks for following my blog!

  19. Hi and thanks for the follow on my blog. Hope you have a great weekend.
    BTW: I have watched this movie sooo many times with my 2 grandsons. Love it!! Hugs Paula xx

    1. Have you not seen it? I didn’t quite like it the first time, but after all these years, it’s grown on me and has a very special place in my heart (like everyone else who’s seen it).

      1. I’ve seen it on Disney, but every time I tried to watch it, I felt not watching it, I became distracted by so many things or sometimes I fell asleep. Haha… my bad! 🙂
        But I’ll watch it. 🙂

  20. I would agree that “WALL-E” was much deeper than most viewers probably considered. It goes well beyond the environmental theme. I found the visual commentary of the consumerism gone rampant overwhelming. Obese people being wheeled around. Physical activity becoming obsolete with the complete reliance on technology, sadly, is more prophetic than most people realize. I found the film completely depressing.

    I am not sure I picked up on any Biblical allegories, although I did notice that consumerism is followed with such zeal in the film that it seems to have replaced any real faith. Again, the thought of the future being so emotionally, physically and spiritually hollow made the film incredibly sad and depressing.

  21. My husband frequently finds a link between the storyline of a movie and the Bible. He has often said that about a few of the Pixar movies too. Glad to see he is right on track!

  22. One of my favourite movies,and far deeper than the kid’s sci-fi movie it was advertised as. I never spotted the Christian influences. I must watch it again, not only to watch for that but because I read the Steve Jobs biography and he had a big hand in Pixar, and no doubt the making of Wall-E. Jobs was big on the eastern mysticism and went to India to be handpicked by the guru to learn charisma and persuasion. He didn’t go to learn how to be meek. I found a link on the Apple / Wall E references, The biography of Jobs doesn’t go into the psychology of Jobs and his film-making. Maybe I’ll write a blog on Jobs’s relationship with his father and how it’s worked into Wall-E and Toy Story..Thanks again for this. Here’s the link http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/30/wall-e-an-homage-to-mr-jobs/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

  23. There are so many truths throughout Wall-E that I am not surprised there would also be biblical references. This is one of the reasons I love this movie and many of the pixar movies. Most movies have subliminal messages, if I am going to have my children getting these messages, best believe they need to be truths, pure, and good! Great read!

  24. I love this–I hadn’t really thought that much about the movie, but I do find it challenging to write novels about characters who find God without making them cheesy. I hate dumbed down, in your face Christianity. I think I have to take another look at the movie–thanks for provoking some thought!

  25. Thanks for stopping by dialogondialogue.wordpress.com! I think publicity-wise I do blogging wrong. I’m not in everybody’s face all the time. Just once a month when I have something worth sharing, and the time to share it. Life is too precious to anchor one’s butt to a chair – if one is lucky enough to have other options.

  26. Hello. I’m not sure about Pixar, but most Walt Disney movies seem to have a moral theme to them. I don’t know that I would go so far as to say it’s Christian. Unfortunately, the movies, in getting across their morals, usually have a sad side to them. For instance; Disney’s The Lion King when the dad dies. Also, who could ever forget the message about hunters in Bambi? I personally don’t like hunting or hunters who kill for sport. I don’t think we should hunt at all considering we don’t need the food. We waste a lot of meat as it is. At least here in the US. Anyway, that’s a story for another blog. Thank you for following my blog. I’d like to personally invite you to read the first chapter of my book “In His Glory, A Book of Miracles” and my poem “The Love” on my blog site. Please also visit my website as well. Thanks. Have a blessed day.

  27. WALL-E was a favorite of mine as well. One part that almost seemed like a prediction for our future, had to do with the figures losing their ability to talk because they were on the computers/phones all the time. That could happen as I watch people texting each other instead of talking – right beside each other.

  28. WALL-E is one of those movies that do not tire one. There are portrayals of Love, Courage, and so many other good things there. And glad that our Christian brothers (and sisters) are making a difference.

  29. Hello and nice to meet you. Thank you for the follow .I am sure in some of these cartoons you can find a nice story if you look;) Have a nice day..

  30. Hi. Thanks for liking my post at learningtocry.wordpress.com.
    I am so in agreement about WALL-E being a deep movie. I saw a lot in it when I watched it the first time a few yrs back. I am not a Christian. I didn’t make those biblical connections but did really appreciate other messages about humankind and the impact of the direction it is taking. Thanks for sharing the interview. Very interesting.

  31. I love Wall-E! With each new progress we lose a little bit of our connection with our roots and our humanity. It is only through love that we can find our way back. This love is God. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

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