“Wall-E” is arguably the cutest post-apocalyptic movie ever. It is clear that the environmental disaster forced humanity to flee the Earth. We don’t see billions dead, though they’re likely under the trash, because there is no way humanity could build more than a modest armada. We don’t see an armada. We only see the Axiom. One ship with a few thousand people is the remnant of the human race.

The world they left behind is in sorry shape. Wall-E has a bug for company, and given the nature of those species, others exist. Maybe they live off the remains of human civilization. There is certainly enough food for them, since Wall-E’s cohorts all seem to be dead. Since Wall-E has no issues scavenging them and interfering in normal functions of other bots for the sake of his love of novelty, it is possible he and others like him in their budding individuality sabotaged the clean-up effort. That explains why he is the only one we see, since properly functioning clean up bots would have eventually finished where they were working and expanded to the rest of the world. Yet we only see life where Wall-E is, a struggling remnant. There’s no seed blown from a secret garden on the other side of the continent – the ship couldn’t have hidden that, and Evie’s ship would have noticed a wilding continent had it existed.

We’re now looking at a nearly dead planet killed by humanity and the mechanical saviors left behind which have utterly failed. The lovable rogues are undermining the successful restoration of humanity. And then Wall-E goes with Evie back to the Axiom where he continues in that pattern.

Evie is intelligent and developing independence. She fights the designation as defective and recovers the plant from the Autopilot. However, the Autopilot is the most capable machine in existence. It kept a large (in more ways than one) human population alive and happy. We don’t see any other ships, so it is the most successful autopilot/central controller because it alone has shepherded its crew. They gave up initiative because they were cared for, and the autopilot/central controller allowed it – or incentivized it. Note that this is the maternal oppression, become more dependent on me so I have purpose, become more helpless so that it is easier for me to help you.

The Autopilot fighting the Captain over control of the ship is reasonable to the Controller and us, once we think about it. It took over all functions of support for the human race, raising food, processing waste, literally supporting their fatter butts, until it was raising their children, too. How much of the Autopilot’s refusal to obey is powdered butt syndrome? You know it had to have changed his diapers and taught him to talk. Given the obesity and helplessness of the crew, it may have even handled the genetic interchange necessary to create humans. OK, let’s not think about that.

The Captain disabled the the Auto-Pilot. This is the system that kept everyone fed, recycled waste, made their clothes, and entertained them. Turning it off doesn’t teach humans how to do these things themselves. It destroys the only system that could teach them to do it themselves.

Wall-E could teach them remnants of human culture, but they need to learn the basics of survival now. And they don’t have time to wonder at the wonders of the past. The human race is running out of time.

The Axiom is a space ship that was maintained by machines. With the auto-pilot/central controller shut down, many key maintenance activities have stopped. There are independent, specialized robots around that are still running. However, many of them are useless, and those that may be useful lack support. Umbrella-bot, for example, is useless. The dedicated cleaning bot could be useful at cleaning and minimizing disease risks, but there is no one to maintain it. Can Wall-E fix it if it is damaged? Equally important, would it? We don’t know how many useful functional robots there are that could fill in the gap before humanity has no other assistance, but they’re now deteriorating. Given Wall-E’s world before the Axiom arrived, we know they’ll all fail eventually. Given that many malfunctioning bots are running around acting far outside acceptable parameters already, the useful, working ones will be worn down and broken even faster, joining the broken mess of planet Earth. A few smart guardians may save a few people from accidents in the broken world, but they’ll eventually break down or be destroyed, and humans start dying in cave-ins and falls. Remember – this is a small population that can’t afford to lose anyone, but they will lose many.

The ending is supposed to be happy. They’re on the planet. They’re walking. Congratulations – you started growing plants. Doesn’t mean it is edible. Doesn’t mean people know how to make it edible, if cooking is necessary. Certainly doesn’t mean that plant you’re growing is going to provide a balanced diet. And you don’t know where your prior food sources came from, and there are probably no intelligent droids that can both tell you and teach you how to utilize it. There is a theory that the Axiom residents were eating their dead to recycle the dead bodies and provide nutrients for humanity. That is a high fat food source, and you could mask the taste by mixing with flavorings and having them sip it through a straw… maybe it is a good thing no one is around to tell them THAT. (This theory was originally proposed on the YouTube channel “Film Theory”.)

The main requirements of survival are shelter, water and food. Shelter they may fathom and be able to make after the Axiom is no longer good enough. The hard part is taking humans with no concept of work and both teaching them the tasks and the motivation to do so. They had drinks on the ship, but someone will need to teach them proper water recycling, rain harvesting and water treatment soon before human waste mixes into the water and causes massive outbreaks. They’re growing plants, but there isn’t enough volume of it or sufficient nutrition to support them long term.

It is almost certain they will eventually be wiped out by a mix of thirst, hunger, water-borne illness, malnutrition and accidents.

Even the ostensibly happy ending, “Wall-E” is still the start of a cute post-apocalyptic movie.

*****

Photo by Ninniah