Friday, September 30, 2022

WALL-E joins the Criterion Collection as first Disney or Pixar CG Animated Feature

September 21, 2022
Photo by Madison Echlin | The State News

After 14 years of dazzling us with its powerful themes, sweet romance and elegant animations, “WALL-E” has been added to the Criterion Collection, an assortment of important classic and contemporary films from around the world.

The collection, which includes films like “Citizen Kane” and “Godzilla,” was founded in 1984 and continues to expand its filmography today. The movies that make the cut aren’t just 1940s film noir though, Criterion simply looks for exemplary films of their kind. 

“Films do not need to convey a specific message or theme to be part of the Criterion,” Chief Technology Officer Jon Mulvaney said in an email. “They do have to have a distinct perspective that … deepens the viewer's understanding and appreciation of cinema and the human experience.”

However, this doesn’t mean that a high Rotten Tomatoes score makes a movie worthy of the collection. In fact, Mulvaney said that Criterion does not typically use rating systems to decide which films will be included.

“We work with a curatorial team and focus on presenting every release -- whether it's been available on home video before or not -- in a unique light that is also authentic to the filmmaker's vision,” Mulvaney said in an email.

The same will be the case for "WALL-E," which will also include “special features” in its Criterion home. This 2008 CG-animated film about two robots working to salvage Earth from mankind's destruction while falling in love is the first of its kind to join the collection.

And, seeing as "WALL-E" has won nine Academy Awards, including one for Best Animated Feature, its addition to the Criterion Collection seems indisputable.

“I think it’s worthy of that collection,” comparative culture and politics sophomore Natalie Rehkemper said. “There were a lot of things about "WALL-E" besides its messages that were very important for the time. Its animation, for one, is probably one of the reasons it’s in there. But I think that in general, it’s deserving of that spot because of how noticeable the message is, but again, when you’re small it didn’t feel forced. It was just a great way of showing an example of what could be in a way that was easily digestible to most people- it’s a kid’s movie.”

Rehkemper said that the themes of "WALL-E," though a little performative to her now, contributed to the movie’s success.

“Human greed, our need for leisure, again, global warming, pollution," Rehkemper said. "There’s also, you know, that theme of love between Wall-E and Eve, beautiful story there. There was also a theme of overcoming our past errors."

Computer science freshman Aashi Sharma also agreed with Criterion’s decision.

"Just because, I think … as a Pixar movie, they’re informing young audiences on extremely serious topics, and since we’re kind of going towards that timeline, I think it’s very important for younger generations to have an understanding (of that),” Sharma said. "'WALL-E' did a very great job of, kind of, displaying what the future would be like, just like on the path that we’re on right now, such as extinction and all the waste that was present in the movie.”

As the Criterion Collection showcases a variety of films, ranging from those as recent as “Parasite” to 1942 classic “Casablanca,” it raises questions about how those films stay relevant today.

Rehkemper said she thinks this won’t be the case for "WALL-E."

“I think for a kid’s movie, maybe, there’s a chance,” Rehkemper said. “But I think that, especially as we move forward, more movies surrounding similar topics come up, like "Don’t Look Up." So, I think that right now, it feels timeless to us, but I don’t think it will stand the test of time.”

Similarly, Sharma said she doesn’t know how much of an effect "WALL-E" will have on audiences as time goes on. 

“Just because of the path we’re going down right now," Sharma said. "Right now, this is just what the future could be, but 50-60 years (WALL-E) could be what the present is."

For now, "WALL-E" will remain in the Criterion Collection as “a pop-science-fiction love story, making for an urgent fable for our troubled millennium.”

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