Thursday, August 07, 2008

WALL*E: Message in Story

My status update informed my Facebook Friends that I was wowed by WALL*E, and Sara Zarr sent me to Jeffrey Overstreet's interview with Andrew Stanton, writer and director of Pixar's newest wonder.

We're not a culture that tolerates much preaching. In WALL*E, a combination of strong characterization, pacing, and plot permitted the storyteller to proclaim a strong message without making us resent either him or the film. Overstreet asked Stanton how he pulled off that miracle:
Overstreet: How do you approach the challenge of being meaningful in entertainment without preaching?

Stanton: I knew I was playing with fire by having elements that could [make people] accuse me of preaching, but frankly I figured that if I was always doing it from an honest place, that I was only using things in order to make the story clear and make the love story and the theme of the movie as rock-solid as I could, then the smart people would get it. So… that’s my only defense. I hate going to a movie and being preached to. If it emotionally gets to somebody, then I’ll take credit for it, because I was trying to go for as much emotional punch as possible.
Caring for the planet is the culture's current cause célèbre, but I'm convinced that even pave-it-all-drill-everywhere advocates have enjoyed the movie thoroughly, and been affected by it. Know of any stellar novels written from an "honest place," with a story and theme strong enough for the writer to advocate his or her passion? Maybe the book even proclaimed a message that you reject, but because of the storyteller's mastery, you were unable to resent it and perhaps able to hear it for the first time.

1 comment:

Lisa Lamb said...

Mitali, How did your husband let you get away with such a negative characterization of preaching? I know, it's a common term for haranguing, hectoring, berating, nagging, etc. But, at its best, preaching comes from an honest place and tells stories so well that we are able to hear good news as if for the first time...
let's hold out a little hope for that dying art's revival!