Wall-E and Realism

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Wall-e is a stunning piece as an exercise of realism, for the most part anyway. The scenes of Earth as a decayed, desolate landfill site are not only beautifully constructed and realised but also stunningly realistic. Perhaps the later parts on the Axiom don't seem quite so realistic as we have no prior experience of them?
So how did they get such beautiful realism on Earth?
The audience sees through a 'camera' - that is to say, the more a shot looks like it is being filmed by a physical camera, the more realism it adds. From camera shakes and motion blur as objects rocket past close to the viewer, to lens effects such as lens flare and focus shifting.
Perhaps one of the most effective of these, and always seems to persuade my brain that what I'm looking at is real is the use of shallow depth-of-field shots, and the shifting of focus. This is often used to draw your eye from one subject to another without physically moving the camera or figures. Yet it is also used to great effect to give a sense of scale to the audience. Incredibly shallow depth of field is often felt in close up shots, with much wider in mid-range shots.
The design of the characters and settings of the shots also plays a vital role in realism, as when a character looks too 'perfect' it is much less realistic. Take the difference between Wall-e and Eve, crumpled, dented and asymmetrical against pristine and polished. It's the scratches and dents that add to the physical presence of Wall-e and makes him feel much more solid, in much the same way the fingerprints on Wallace and Gromit add to their presence and character.
The entire film can be seen as a clash between the 'perfect' and, for want of a better word, gritty, world of the Axiom in space, and ruined Earth.


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