As WALL-E traverses the barren veins of an anonymous post-human cityscape, it becomes clear through a dull and hazy palette that the planet has been uninhabited for quite some time. What has remained is the ubiquitous “BnL” logo, the standard of the big-box mega-conglomerate Buy ‘n Large. Massive retail outlets, undoubted nods to Wal-Mart Supercenters, sit empty alongside abandoned cars, cracked highways and the wiry tangles of an infrastructure left in ruin – all of which, naturally, is covered in garbage.
WALL-E has the charming curiosity of a child, greeting each new discovery in his ceaseless task with fleeting joy and wonder. Through his perspective, the objects that once held great value to humans must now pass the tests of utility and uniqueness. The crowd chuckles as WALL-E tosses a diamond ring away in favor of its box, salvaging the more useful object for his personal collection. With no humans to assign monetary values to material goods, nor anyone to covet finite resources, WALL-E, the last surviving robot of its kind, ultimately decides what merits preservation and what is simply junk. In this role, this simple robot, strikingly similar to Short Circuit, maintains power over the entire planet, all while being fully unaware of his position.
WALL-E’s greatest find, however, is the fragile sprouting of a small plant sheltered in an eave of debris, the first time in the film that the color green graces the screen. Enter the robot EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), whose dramatic arrival on a massive spacecraft fractures the considerable silence that molds the early sequences of the film. As it turns out, the same humans who fled the planet on Buy n Large spaceships have sent a reconnaissance robot to determine whether the planet has become habitable again. Through a series of awkward encounters between the wide-eyed WALL-E and the cold, determined EVE, a bond develops that draws them back to the exiled human race on the Buy n Large vessel “The Axiom.”