“WALL-E” – obviously the year’s most fascinating animated 29th century love story -- sings!
“I stumbled across ‘Hello, Dolly!’” Stanton said during a recent Toronto-based interview. “Like a lot of people, I had done some musical theater as a kid in high school and one of the standards was ‘Hello, Dolly!’ I remember hearing that phrase ‘out there’ from (the song) ‘Put on Your Sunday Clothes,’ and it was a complete guttural and aesthetic choice."
‘Wow! Out there and then you cut to stars.’ It just worked. I couldn’t explain it, but I kept it alive for the longest time and then I realized why it was working for me. This song is about two young guys that are stuck in a small town and just want to sneak away for a day, have a life and maybe kiss a girl. And I thought, ‘That’s WALL-E.’ So, in a weird way, you’re going to meet WALL-E’s hopes, dreams, soul – in Frame One – before you even see him on screen.
“Hello, Dolly!” -- somehow a 1969 Best Picture nominee which actually carted away three other Oscars -- stars Walter Matthau and Barbra Streisand, but it’s British entertainer Michael Crawford (and love interest Marianne McAndrew) mostly seen and heard in Disney-Pixar’s “WALL-E.”
‘When I started looking at other ‘Dolly’ songs, I found ‘It Only Takes a Moment’ and, when I started to watch the movie and saw the two lovers holding hands, it was a big ‘A-ha’ moment for me," Stanton explained.
“It was like, ‘Wow! I have a character that can’t say I love you, but that’s how he can – with the visual of holding hands. When you get a gift like that, from an initial inspiration, you take it as fate like, ‘I should be using it. This is helping me a lot.’"
“As odd as it is, I ran with it. My theme in all my choices was ‘irrational love defeats life’s programming’ and, to me, that’s what happened to these two robots. I thought it was a great metaphor for real life. We’re starting to be in a society where you can distract yourself so quickly and so easily with a million things and not do the tougher but more satisfying thing of making contact with the person next to you and pushing relationships, which are messy and don’t always go the way you planned them. But, that’s the real reason you’re on this planet.”
All that said, Stanton added that “Hello, Dolly!” almost didn’t make the cut, either. “As sort of an early stand-in, I had French ‘30s swing music,” he said.
"I knew I wanted old versus new, and I loved that juxtaposition. It had sort of a Woody Allen-feel right when the movie started."
“Then the (animated) ‘Triplets of Belleville’ came out and it’s all in pantomime, ‘30s, all-French, swing style and I didn’t want to look like I was copying. I’m now kind of glad it happened because it forced me to look harder. I broadened the scope to anything old and moved my search into Broadway musicals and stuff.”
“WALL-E” and “Dolly” couldn’t be happier.
John M. Urbancich