I am definitely not the first to notice the silence in this movie. There is an interesting article comparing WALL-E to Modern Times.
The use of minimal verbal communication represents the decline in society’s abilities down to a basic level, starting with reading and language. This is very evident when we finally meet the human characters, but we’ll get to them in a bit.
WALL-E and EVE (or Eva as WALL-E says) (Elissa Knight) communicate through physical interaction rather than words. WALL-E can say “WALL-E”, “Eva”, “directive” “pop”, and “Earth” However, his main communication comes through the things he has in his little house and his eyes.
EVE can actually say many words, but no sentences. She also communicates a lot with her eyes. Even though WALL-E and EVE cannot speak actual sentences to each other, they still converse very well. When we get to the ship, the robots in general can communicate with each other, while robots and people cannot.
When we finally meet the humans in their space ship, they are all fat and picture oriented. There are few words used in this new society. They do everything by pushing buttons or speaking to a computer. When words are shown, there are only one, two, or three words at a time and the computer is usually saying them out loud.
When John (John Ratzenberger) falls out of his chair, he cannot speak to the robots because they do not understand him. They just keep repeating, “A service-bot will be along shortly.” People can speak to people, and robots can speak to robots, but it is difficult for people and robots to communicate effectively.
When we see the babies and the robot teaching them the alphabet, it does not come across as educating them so much as amercing them in propaganda. She says, “B is for Big and Large, your very best friend”. These robots are teaching the babies, not how to speak and read, but how their life is going to be.
When the captain (Jeff Garlin) speaks to the members of the ship, he recommends they try a “free septuacentennial cupcake in a cup”. However, the computer emphasizes how to say each piece of septuacentennial. Not that I could say that word the first try either, but he doesn’t even know how to sound out a word without help.
One of the most obvious portrayals of the captain’s lack of experience with reading is when the captain gets the manual. He cannot say “operation manual”. He reads “operate manuel”. He is also surprised the book has pages. Apparently there are no books in this world. Humans do not have to work to learn things. Robots and computers simply give them the information they want to know, as is shown when he is learning all about Earth from the computer.
Civilization has declined drastically over 700 years. In a world where computers and technology rule everything, it is not surprising that communication and language skills would drop also.
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