Script To Screen: “Wall-E”

January 8th, 2014 by

One of the loveliest scenes from the 2008 movie Wall-E, screenplay by Andrew Stanton and Jim Reardon, original story by Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter.

Plot Summary: In the distant future, a small waste collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.

Eve is ecstatic.
She snaps the plant up with her tractor beam.
Seals it safely in her chest.
Then scoops up Wally in her arms.
Spins him around.

EVE
Wally! 
(Laughs)

Wally can’t believe his luck.
Rests his head on her shoulder.
Bliss.

Eve stops spinning.
Leans her head against his.
A tiny ARC OF ELECTRICITY passes between them.
A “thank you” kiss.

Wally’s METER spikes.
He floats circles in space.

WALLY
(swoons)

EVE
(hums)
[Come on. Time’s a wastin’.]

She reaches for his hand.
Wally shakes his head.
Holds up his extinguisher instead.

WALLY
(beeps)
[I can fly myself.]

Kicks on the extinguisher.
Spins in a pirouette...
...and flies away.
Eve giggles.
Chases after him.

BING CROSBY’S “STARDUST” PLAYS

The two fly around the stern of the ship.
Wally does a few barrel rolls.

WALLY
(beeps)
[Try that.]

Eve giggles.
Matches him move for move.

The pair fly between the BOOSTER ENGINES of the ship.
Weave in and out of the rocket flames.
Bank up along the ship’s port side.
Execute a double helix in perfect unison...

INT. AXIOM’S OBSERVATION DECK - SAME

Passengers hover down the hallway.
All focused on their private screens.
No one looks out at the stars.

...except for MARY.

She has pulled over to the side.
Stares wistfully out the DECK WINDOW.

MARY
(sigh)
So many stars.

Spots EVE & WALLY dancing among the stars.

MARY
Oooh...
(recognizes Wally)
Hey, that’s what’s his name --

She backs up to wave hello.
Bumps into JOHN’S HOVER CHAIR.

JOHN
Hey! What the --

Mary leans over to his armrest.
Turns off his holo-screen.
Points out the window.

MARY
Look! Look at THAT!

JOHN
(disoriented)
Wha...huh?

Wally flies past the window.
A wave of recognition hits John.
He comes to life, as if wakened from a long sleep.

JOHN
Hey... I know that guy! It’s, uh...
(snaps fingers)
Wally! Hey Wally! It’s your buddy, John!

MARY
Right, Wally! Hi Wally!

They both wave until Wally’s out of sight.
John absentmindedly lowers his hand to his armrest...

...and touches Mary’s hand.

Both turn towards each other.
They make eye contact for the first time.
Awkward beat.

JOHN
Hi.

MARY
Hi.

OUTSIDE WITH WALLY AND EVE

They soar across the Axiom’s bow.

INT. BRIDGE

Auto busy operating the ship.
Doesn’t see Eve and Wally outside the window.
Auto turns the SKY DIAL from DAY TO NIGHT.

INSIDE THE CONCOURSE

The sky dome fast-forwards to evening.
PAN OVER to the top of the bridge tower.
The windows of the Captain’s quarters are dark.
Only the FLICKERING GLOW OF A HOLO-SCREEN lights the room.

CAPTAIN (V.O.)
Define “hoe-down”.

INT. CAPTAIN’S QUARTERS - NIGHT - SAME

The Captain is still engrossed in his Earth research.
MULTIPLE IMAGES litter the screen.
Crops, farms, a barn, etc....
An IMAGE OF PEOPLE SQUARE DANCING pops up.

SHIP’S COMPUTER (V.O.)
“Hoedown” - a social gathering at which
lively dancing would take place.
An aperture opens in the ceiling above.
Auto lowers down to face the Captain.

CAPTAIN
Auto! Earth is amazing!
(points to images)
These are called “farms”. Humans would
put seeds in the ground, pour water on
them, and they’d grow food, like, pizza --

Auto shuts off the holo-screen.

AUTOPILOT
Good night, Captain.

CAPTAIN
(annoyed grunt)

Auto rises back up to the bridge.
The aperture shuts. Lights out.
The Captain glares at the ceiling.
Then whispers conspiratorially to the computer.

CAPTAIN
Psst! Computer.
(the holo-screen lights up)
Define “dancing”.

BACK OUTSIDE THE AXIOM

Eve and Wally descend along the starboard side.
Spiral gracefully around one another.

SHIP’S COMPUTER (V.O.)
“Dancing” - A series of movements,
involving two partners, where speed and
rhythm match harmoniously with music.

Wally’s extinguisher runs out of foam.
He lets it float freely out into space.
Eve catches him in her arms.
Wally croons.

Here is the scene from the movie:

Questions to ask to analyze the scene:

* What elements in the movie scene are the same as the script?

* What elements in the movie scene are different than the script?

* Regarding the differences, put yourself in the mindset of the filmmakers and speculate: Why did they make the changes they did?

* How did the changes improve the scene?

* Alternatively are there elements in the script, not present in the movie, that are better than the final version of the scene?

* Note each camera shot in the movie version. Which of them does the script suggest via sluglines or scene description?

* How does the script convey a sense of the scene’s tone, feel, and pace through scene description and dialogue?

* What ‘magic’ exists in the movie that is not indicated in the words of the script? How do you suppose that magic emerged?

I’ll see you in comments for a discussion of this terrific scene from Wall-E.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

One thought on “Script To Screen: “Wall-E”

  1. […] Wally’s METER spikes. He floats …read more […]

Leave a Reply