Necessary Narrator?

The most interesting part of this novel to me is the detached narrator and what role he plays in the story. Throughout the book thus far, he has maintained distance from the audience through lack of dialogue and vague character descriptions. The narrator himself does not have a name, and the brother whose story he recounts also remains nameless. H.G. Wells could have easily written this story with an omniscient narrator because the one he gave us says next to nothing about himself, but focuses his words on describing the Martian attack. While the most important aspect of the plot is him retelling his experiences, Wells could have written the entire story through the eyes of a third person omniscient or limited omniscient narrator. Therefore, what does making the narrator an active character in the novel add to the story? Most of the dystopian novels I have read are invested in their narrator who forms a relationship with the audience as they grow sympathetic to his or her circumstances. However, the narrator in War of the Worlds makes little to no attempt to grab the audience by their emotions., and he does not always come across as reliable. He sticks strictly to the Martians, and we have also witnessed his lack of response to people getting killed or taken by the Martians (the curate, anyone?).

Moreover, we have discussed in class how cinematic the text itself is, so would it be possible for it to be adapted as a silent film? Since the plot is event heavy and the dialogue does not add anything significant to the story, I think it is easy to see how this could be translated on screen into a silent movie. Because the narrator is so detached from the story, I would also be interested in seeing how he is portrayed in a silent movie. Would he still be a part of the story, or would the perspective be changed to an omniscient narrator?

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Alone

Throughout the movie the mood goes from gloomy to hopeful in seconds. Although the movie is not an action packed blockbuster, there are a few intense moments. I believe the emotional connection between the viewer and Wall-E starts when we see him long for a companion. When Wall-E watches the couple dancing on the screen, he realizes he is alone in the world. Being alone is something we can all relate to because at some point in our lives we all have to take on a challenge by ourselves. Wall-E finally finds a friend in a roach that is somewhat cute and understanding in comparison to the roaches that we know on Earth. The mood takes a sharp turn after Wall-E accidentally runs over the roach and panics when it lays still. When the roach pops back up (because roaches don’t die) we are hopeful again that Wall-E can continue to work with a friend. When Eva comes to Earth we are again hopeful that that Wall-E will finally be able to have a connection with another robot. In the beginning we see Wall-E harvest parts from another Wall-E bot. He doesn’t have any robots like him around which would explain why he is so intrigued by Eva. Instead of getting a joyful confrontation, we are terrified by the sudden danger that Wall-E is in. Again the tone takes a sharp turn when Eva experiences Euphoria only to shut down and leave Wall-E alone to work by himself again. The humans on the ship are content with their lives. They take care of themselves and enjoy moving around the ship while watching whatever is on their personal screen. Although they are constantly around others, they do not truly have a connection with the things around them. The first real connection we see them have is when the man and woman turn off their screens to talk to each other. In the future will technology make us forget how to form relationships with each other? Are we going to have to study the past like Wall-E watches the show on the screen to teach people how to interact with each other?

Gender in Wall E

I have always loved watching the film Wall E. I find the creators’ interpretation of our future so different and outlandish compared to my ideas. I always thought of a very clean cut, technology oriented world with glossy, chrome hues, hover-boards, flying cars, and unimaginable advancements in technology, similar to what the characters experience aboard the Axiom. In addition to this world, I imagined humans and the earth better than ever before, and that the technology would only enhance us, not contribute to our ruination. It sickens me to think of our future as one where our bones have developed to match our grossly inactive lifestyle and have everything done for us. I find their ideas regarding the future truly horrifying, and hope that my version of the future is more accurate than being restricted to a computerized floating hover-chair, drinking liquefied food, and traveling on a never-ending space cruise. Avoiding Baton Rouge traffic or sprint from Lockett to the BEC because of newly invented hover boards sounds pretty cool, but being  unable to see beyond my computer screen or stand up on my own definitely does not.

One of the other ideas that I had while watching the film and during the class discussion was why do we assume Wall E is a male and Eve is a female? Aside from Eve’s feminine name and sounds, I could never understand why we as viewers put genders on two robots! They were literally pieces of metal programmed to do specific tasks, yet no one, including myself, hesitated to associate them with specific genders. I thought it coincided with our class discussion of seeing the robots as more human-like than robot. We stereotype men as being rough, not afraid to get their hands dirty and compliant to the established societal understanding that men have to chase the women and make the “first move,” which to Wall E portrays in his job as a garbage compacter and his unstoppable pursuit of Eve’s love. Eve depicts the stereotypical (and inherently false) idea that women are complicated and play “hard to get,” while resembling a determined, hardworking woman. She was also very clean, polished, and sleek compared to Wall E. I feel as though the robots’ associations with established gender stereotypes heavily contributes to why we feel a connection to them and see them as more human than just robotic technology. We inevitably empathize with Wall E’s numerous failed attempts to woo Eve and admire the adorable happy ending that the two robots eventually achieve. What does everyone else think? Why do we categorize Wall E into male and Eve into female personas? Were there any other scenes in the movie that could have contributed to this?

The difference between humans and robots?

I was especially interested in the ways the film managed to create such immediate audience investment in a robot character who has little discernible “dialogue” in the classical understanding of that term. From the outset, Wall-E collects and consumes recognizable artifacts from our current world’s near past. Particularly his viewing and mimicry of Hello Dolly positions his character, regardless of exterior shell or linguistic ability, as a “person” or at least “personality” like us. After all, in that moment, we too are watching a film. These early moves establish Wall-E’s “humanity” and later the film underscores it by placing him in direct contrast to the humans on the Axiom. Whereas Wall-E seeks interaction, communication, and new experiences–all traits we recognize and value–the humans seem interested in none of these. Mary and John are both visibly gobsmacked when Wall-E’s interruption opens their eyes to the world around them, in its infinite possibilities. The scene when Eve and Wall-E dance exemplifies this; while Mary gawks at the stars and the Captain researches what dancing is, the robots are already out there, doing it. Indeed, the narrative arc of the film traces Wall-E’s journey as he not only imbues those around him with the same kind of zest for life that marks him as a lovable protagonist, but also as he pursues that perpetually human desire, love (and, perhaps, home as well). The human characters only become characters we seem to care about when they adopt these characteristics and desires as well, which the film makes clear by leaving all the human characters beyond John and Mary (and the Captain, to some extent) nameless and still indistinct. I wonder, then, what this films tells us about what it means to be human. Is it more than biology? Can nonhuman animals and objects be human in other ways?