Charlie Chaplin and Pixar’s WALL-E

Kyle Brady
Tuesday 16 April 2019

It’s Charlie Chaplin’s birthday! So we are highlighting an article in our institutional repository that focuses on the slapstick comedy tradition of the silent era and specifically how the themes of Fordism and industrialisation are also reflected in the 2008 Pixar film WALL-E.

Charlie Chaplin. Publicity photo from Modern Times. Public Domain.

In the article Paul Flaig discusses how Chaplin, Keaton, Floyd and other comics at the time used slapstick comedy to satirise Fordist manufacturing – division of labour, assembly lines, use of industrial machinery. The 1936 classic Modern Times is a prime example of this –

“[S]lapstick comedy was tied to the rise of modern labor in terms of both Taylorist theory and Fordist practice. Comic heroes ranging from live action comedians Chaplin or Keaton to animated animals Felix or Mickey worked against work through the playful excesses of their obediences and transgressions within an increasingly rationalized, industrial world. The digital animation studio Pixar summoned slapstick and its specifically Fordist resonances in its 2008 feature, WALL-E, yet offered a twist in humanizing a figure of perfected Fordism” (Flaig, 2016 Slapstick after Fordism)

The article is available open access from our repository here – – so it is available to anyone regardless of subscriptions.

The final published version can be accessed here – – available to anyone from a subscribing institution only (which includes University of St Andrews staff and students).

Why not give WALL-E a watch (or indeed a rewatch!), you can loan it from the library –

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