Caroline and I went to the cinema together last night, a relatively rare occurence. Based on a favourable review and recommendations from Edmund and Thomas, our choice was the latest Pixar offering, WALL-E.
Its hero/heroine -arguably - is not the lovable, sentient robot of the title, but the last, or rather the first, plant on a planet Earth that has been overwhelmed by consumer waste, and whose inhabitants have mass-migrated to Space Station Axiom. The film is the story of their fight to recolonise Earth, which of course they do.
Caroline and I had a good laugh at the choice of the space station's name: her time with the Axiom Centre of the Arts here in Cheltenham was spent making a place full of opportunities to help people be as creative as possible: the computer running WALL-E's Axiom was intent on making its inhabitants as docile as possible.
Conventional food production incurs the following hidden costs: · 1,000 tonnes of water are consumed to produce every tonne of grain; · 10-15 energy units are spent for every energy unit of food on our plates; · With processed foods, more than 1,000 energy units are used for every energy unit of food; · 12-15 energy units are wasted for every energy unit of food transported per thousand air-miles; · 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, which produces 60% of all methane emissions and 70% of nitrous oxide; · Nearly 90% of all agricultural subsidies benefit corporations and big farmers, while in the USA alone 500 family farms close down every week; and · Subsidised surplus food dumped on developing countries creates poverty, hunger and homelessness on a massive scale.
Axiom, here we come?
WALL-E, the verdict? A dazzlingly clever film, crammed with an immense amount of imaginative detail, some of it genuinely funny and touching; but a film made with a budget of $180m, trailing movie-related merchandise, advertising, not to mention popcorn in its wake - all those things that give rise to the opening hypothesis, that we are heading towards environmental disaster. The end of this film is to entertain and make money. It is therefore, in my view, ultimately making light of our greatest challenge, its "bold" theme ironically causing filmgoers to become numbed to the possibility of overcoming that challenge.