In Lieu of Regular Blog Posts, I’m Just Doing it All at Once

July 19, 2008 at 12:30 am Leave a comment

A few things of note:

-My life has been really weird of late. Weird in ways that would be difficult to convey over what I view as largely a public-interest blog. For a brief period I was weighing options in case I could never return home again (not so much a serious possibility as a result of me overreacting). This is why I haven’t been posting lately.

-Joss Whedon’s latest project, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, is available for now for a limited time on the internets. I suspect all of you have seen it by now, but just in case; watch it. It’s fantastic.

-The guy from this post is still contacting me with cryptic poems, which is kinda weird. I remain too anti-social to actually respond.

-I’m going to see ‘The Dark Knight’ at an IMAX tomorrow. IMAX! I’m ridiculously excited.

-Finished both The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli and Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. I’m still working my way through Steal This Book and have started on 2001: A Space Odyssey.

-Awhile ago I pitched my filmmaker friend Jeff a movie called ‘Rhythm & Blues’, which had itself been pitched to me by Jon and Stephen. Jeff has excited about doing it, and I was glad to have a crew, but later I found out Jon was (quite reasonably, in retrospect) upset that I was moving ahead on his project when he couldn’t be involved, on account of living on the opposite side of the continent.

However, before Jon told me this, Jeff and I shot an (incredibly brief) test for a theoretical opening sequence; basically it was only meant to experiment with some freeze-frame and opening credit stuff we thought of doing. You can see the result on Jeff’s Youtube page here. Hopefully Jon won’t be too pissed off at me about it.


I never gave WALL-E a proper review after I saw it, namely because I tend only to review movies that are fundamentally flawed. ‘WALL-E’, on the other hand, is a work of such great beauty that it would be ridiculous of me to criticize it. Afterward I explained to Jeff that the cinematography was so beautiful that it actually hurt, knowing it would be beyond our skill to ever produce something so incredible.

In lieu of a full review, I just want to talk about one moment I found fantastic (Spoiler Alert from here on out). One thing you see in a lot of CGI films is references for the sake of references; ‘Shrek’, for example, includes a bizarre ‘Matrix’ parody. It’s a really cheap, easy technique, simply pointing out something the audience has already liked for cheap recognition and humour points.

Pixar, on the other hand, tends to do references differently. Through-out ‘WALL-E’ other films are referenced not so much to cash in on their popularity put to incorporate their themes. This is seen most successfully in the scene where the Captain, trying to regain control of his ship from the auto-pilot, stands up to the strains of ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’. This is of course a reference to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, where the song was most famously used. But it’s also more than this.

When the song was used in ‘2001’, it was set to a scene in which an alien monolith teaches our early ape ancestors how to use tools, thus separating them from the mere animals and making them the first proto-men. The song becomes symbolic of the Dawn of Man, taking it’s first uncertain steps from the animal kingdom.

In ‘WALL-E’, the humanity of the ship’s inhabitants has long been lost. They do not communicate with other humans directly, they do what advertising tells them and fail to think for themselves, and they have even lost the ability to walk from over-reliance on hoverchairs.When the Captain stands up to his machine rulers by literally standing up, it becomes symbolic of him reclaiming his humanity. It is a new ‘Dawn of Man’ where the inhabitants of the Axiom begin asserting their status as human beings, a point underscored by the use of ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’. It’s not simply a means of cheap referencing; it’s a way of underscoring the monumental scale and importance of the Captain’s simple actions.

I just wrote a five-paragraph essay on a scene with lasts probably less than two minutes. Were I to dissect the entire movie, I’d need to write a full paper. It’s a testament to the incredible skill of Pixar that they can create a movie so instantly accessible and yet expertly crafted and layered with meaning. If you haven’t seen it, do so now.


Entry filed under: review, Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

Summer Reading, Part II My Review of ‘The Dark Knight’

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