Stanton Talks Wall’E at Comic-Con

Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton took the stage before a massive audience at Comic-Con to share his thoughts and some exclusive footage from the robot movie Wall’E, his latest project and Disney/Pixar’s next release. The program included a presentation by Oscar-winning sound designer Ben Burtt (Star Wars) and an introduction of the film’s main robotic characters. Stanton also confirmed rumors that the movie will have a live-action component.

The assembled crowd was the first audience to see an entire scene from the movie, which takes place in the future, after consumerism has buried the Earth in trash. The planet is virtually abandoned, save for the cock roaches and a lone worker robot that was never switched off. We see Wall’E going about his daily task of compacting trash and neatly stacking it, taking time out to collect toys and other things he finds interesting. He is particularly intrigued by a woman’s bra, which he puts over his binocular-like eyes. Wall’E's mood become even more playful when he sees a strange red light moving over the ground and begins chasing it, unaware that it’s coming from a landing spacecraft. The ship is carrying EVE, a sleek, sophisticated probe android that will become the object of his affection.

The animation is absolutely amazing and the story promises to offer more than just slapstick comedy and moments of unbearable cuteness. Stanton noted that the late 1960s into the 1970 were his formative moviegoing years, and that films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars and Alien conveyed a sense of awe and wonder about space that he hasn’t seen in a long time. Stanley Kubrick’s influence certainly comes across in the exclusive clip, which introduces Wall’E and his situation completely without dialogue. In fact, there may not be much dialogue at all since the robots that populate film communicate mainly through sounds.

‘It occurred to me that I’m basically making R2D2 The Movie,’ said Stanton, who immediately contacted Burtt, the man who helped bring R2D2 to life with sound in the Star Wars films. Burtt demonstrated how he used various sound effects from real machines, including an old, hand-cranked generator from WWII and his father’s antique camera, to create personalities for the android stars of Wall’E.

Most of the dialogue in the movie will likely be spoken by the human characters, who live in space aboard luxury liners. A combination of loss of bone density and the presence of service robots has turned people into overweight blobs that lounge around on floating hover pods. In this world, Wall’E is the only being that seems truly alive and has feelings, though he is nothing more that a box of gears and wires. His capacity for love just may be the only thing that can inspire humanity to get back on track, according to Stanton.

When asked about rumors that Wall’E will be the first Pixar movie to incorporate live-action, Stanton replied, ‘There is a live-action element involved, but that’s all I’m going to say.’ He explained that he didn’t want to give anything away because the blending of styles is intended to bring a lot of emotional impact to a certain scene. Wall’E is slated for release in the summer of 2008.