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‘WALL-E’: How to Tell a Story Visually

How Pixar shows, not tells.

With its release in 2008, “WALL-E” has become a classic Pixar film. Many fans and critics regard the movie as the studio’s masterpiece and it’s not hard to see why. 

WALL-E” takes place in the distant future where humans have abandoned earth because it has been covered in trash, leaving WALL-E, a small waste collecting robot to clean up the mess. One day he meets EVE, a probe droid that has been sent to Earth on a scanning mission. The movie follows WALL-E and his adventures with EVE as they set out on a journey through space.

For those who have seen the film, you’ll know that for the first half of this feature, there is zero dialogue. Yet, the story never leaves the viewers lost or confused. “WALL-E” is presented in a traditional three act structure, and all the elements that take a viewer through the beginning, middle, and end of the movie are all present. Within the first few minutes of the movie, the world of the film is explained and the character and his goals are introduced, all without any spoken dialogue. The rest of the film also continues with very minimal dialogue from its characters, but every aspect of the film is understood, such as WALL-E and EVE’s budding relationship. The film even depicts complex themes such as loneliness and love, and this is largely due to Pixar’s careful construction of what we as the viewers see on the screen.

It’s surprising to see how a film can say so much with so little words, and this was all made possible through Pixar’s use of visual storytelling. Watch Bryan Seeker’s video essay to see how Pixar visually tells the story of “WALL-E.”

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