2 Shots from Wall-E Worth Discussing: Seurat, Sondheim, and Art

While in the process of compiling my list of the best movies of the 'aughts,' I had to take pause on certain occasions to further emphasize the brilliance that is Pixar's Wall-E.

This first shot comes at the end of the first act of the movie. It's almost identical to an earlier shot that shows Wall-E in his day to day activities working. It is also my favorite shot in the entire movie.

The shot the second time evokes isolation and, in context to the story, loneliness (subjects touched on in Sondheim's musical "Sunday in the Park with George."). Wall-E drops the trash bundle and existentially faces a revelation: since the discovery and loss of love, work is meaningless for the first time. Furthermore, since Wall-E's sole purpose was to work, existence itself is rendered meaningless.

Furthermore, the credit sequence drives home the ideas of creation, isolation, art, and science and their effects on humanity. These themes crossover into Geroges Seurat's pointillist painting "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" and more poignantly in Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park with George."

Wall-E's tribute to Georges Seurat's "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" in the closing credits (that conceptualize the progression of technology by referencing major eras in art history with the evolution of human society) also reflects themes explored in Stephen Sondheim's musical "Sunday in the Park ...with George," itself inspired from the original painting.

Seurat developed pointillism as a more scientific style to mimic technological progress when Impressionism had grown too mainstream and failed to address the changing industrial world or the populist leftist politics emerging with the rise of the modern middle class. While less political in concept, the film's subjects of science, art, creation, and human society (both historically and economically) run parallel with objectives in pointillism and ideas in Sondheim's modernist musical.

These two shots express major themes and ideas that are explored in the film itself. Now take the whole movie into context and you have yourself a helluva picture to contemplate.



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