It’s 700 years in the future and earth has become a toxic wasteland. Centuries earlier humans were forced to leave the planet and move to outer space, because copious amounts of rubbish created through mass consumerism had made the place uninhabitable. The dusty cityscape shows the remnants of a civilisation: old billboards advertising cola and holidays, an empty bank, an engagement ring sparkling in the gutter.
Looking more closely, we notice that the tall skyscrapers aren’t buildings at all, but giant cubes of waste, compacted and stacked on top of each other. Save a lone cockroach just one thing stirs. This is WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class), a small, rusty robot who diligently trundles through the barren, dusty streets, scooping up rubbish into his belly, compressing it and stacking it. Occasionally he finds small gems among the trash – an old boot, a Rubik cube, a video of the musical Hello, Dolly! which he watches again and again on his ancient VCR. He is fascinated by a scene of a boy and girl holding hands and dancing.