5

How long did it take WALL•E and the ship on which he was riding to get from the Earth to the Axiom Executive Starliner? There are some conflicting points of reference that make this a bit confusing:

  • The speed of the ship allows WALL•E to reach out as they pass the planet with rings and watch the material swirl away, indicating a relatively slow pace, which, regardless of how far away the Axiom is from Earth, it should take a minimum of years/decades for them to get there.
  • Also, as shown in the screenshot below, we see the entirety of the galaxy (which I can only assume is supposed to be the Milky Way) as WALL•E and the probe ship approach the Axiom, which means that they've traveled not only beyond our solar system but beyond the boundaries of our galaxy as well.

WALL•E on his way to the Axiom

  • If we consider that the Voyager 1 probe only recently broke out of our solar system and entered interstellar space after 40 years of travel - even allowing a few years +/- for the research "stops" it made along the way, as well as improvements in propulsion methods made since the 1970's - and the fact that the boundaries of the galaxy are orders of magnitude further out than the boundaries of our little solar system, we're talking about thousands of years of travel, even at the speed of light.
  • The plant has not grown (or completely died) when they get it to Captain McCrea, which would seem to indicate a very short amount of time has passed (unless the plant was placed in some sort of unidentified stasis inside the cavity in EVE's chest).

We know that the trip back was made very quickly through the use of a "hyper jump", which is apparently some form of faster-than-light travel since it seems to get them back to Earth in an extremely short amount of time.

Obviously, the writers played very fast and loose with the realities of space travel. I mean, WALL•E would have a very difficult time recharging with his solar panels while in interstellar space where the light from any single star would be so faint that he'd be lucky to get any of that energy into his batteries. Also, as stated above, unless the plant was protected by some sort of hibernation/stasis inside of EVE's chest cavity, even a couple of days worth of travel would likely result in its death.

Also, according to the movie, the ship has been traveling for 700 years when WALL•E and EVE arrive (Captain McCrea announces the celebratory septuacentennial cupcake in a cup). Again, the physics and math would make this far too short a time for even the Axiom to make it to the intergalactic nebula in which we apparently find it.

Now, add to these "little" idiosyncracies the tag line from the movie:

"After 700 years of doing what he was built for, he'll discover what he was meant for."

This would seem to mean that WALL•E has been working since the Axiom left Earth. This little fact would appear to cut the travel time to days/weeks.

This is probably a case of "suspension of disbelief" and allowing the storytellers to take creative license in order to tell the story they want, but there are so many factors that raise questions that I have to go ahead and ask.


EDIT

I recently noticed an additional reference point that throws yet another potential "kink" in the timeline. WALL•E's cockroach friend, Hal. Based on the introductory scenes to the movie, it appears that WALL•E is working somewhere in the New England area of the United States. That would indicate that Hal is an American cockroach.

According to the linked reference, the expected lifespan of an American cockroach in the "right" conditions is approximately 3 years with the first 20 months being the maturation process from nymph to adulthood. It seems that Hal is likely a mature specimen, which would mean that he'd only have at most around 15 months left of his life expectancy when WALL•E leaves for the Axiom. Yet, Hal is there when WALL•E returns. It's clear from the "nervous" pacing while EVE is attempting to repair WALL•E that it is Hal, and not one of his descendants.

With this evidence, it would seem that the round-trip to the Axiom and back to Earth would have to take less than 1.5 years. Just one more "piece of the puzzle" to add to the confusion.

  • 4
    Having not watched the movie in a while, I'm not going to provide an answer. but some things to think about for anyone answering. The speed of the ship being slow relative to an unknown ringed planet tells you nothing about the speed of the ship relative to Earth, as it is very unlikely that the ringed planet is stationary relative to Earth. Also note that the 700 years experienced by the crew of the ship may not correspond to 700 years on Earth. Moving clocks run slower - Whilst a lightspeed or sub-light ship can't reach other galaxies in 700 Earth years, they can in 700 ship years. – Scott Jan 3 '18 at 4:29
  • @Scott - Sorry I didn't respond earlier, but these are very good points to bring up as a part of the answer. The relative velocity of the ship to the ringed planet does help to account for that "argument". The "relative" time may help to some degree with the "700 years" figure, but doesn't necessarily help with regards to the plant's or cockroach's survival through the entirety of the round-trip. – G_Hosa_Phat Nov 27 '18 at 15:23
3

Also, according to the movie, the ship has been traveling for 700 years when WALL•E and EVE arrive ...

Was it shown in the movie ? Cause I totally missed that part. Now coming to the part on how many years the spacecraft took to reach Axiom.

While there was possibly (for if again I missed that part too !!) no mention about a specific time, I suppose it would not take as much time as you think.

According to this Wiki here:

According to "Captaining the Axiom"—a command orientation video shown to captains on their first day—the Axiom operates on a 25-hour day, and was located in the Kuiper Belt.

And if you search for Kuiper Belt, it states :

The Kuiper Belt (also known as the Edgeworth–Kuiper belt) is a region of the Solar System that exists beyond the eight major planets, extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun. It is similar to the asteroid belt, in that it contains many small bodies, all remnants from the Solar System’s formation.

NASA says:

On average, Pluto is a distance of 39.5 astronomical units, or AU, from the sun.

From this we can conclude that, Axiom is in Kuiper-Belt which extends from Neptune to a little beyond Pluto.

So, as you have said

Also, we see the entirety of the galaxy (which I can only assume is supposed to be the Milky Way) as WALL•E and the probe ship approach the Axiom, which means that they've traveled not only beyond our solar system but beyond the boundaries of our galaxy as well.

....that is not true . They are still IN the Milky Way. They are anywhere between Neptune and little beyond Pluto.

Also Voyeger 1 completed its mission in Saturn (9.6 AU distatnce) on November 12, 1980 and took this image (from 40.5 AU distance) on February 14, 1990. So, a spacecraft made in 1977, took roughly less than 10 years to travel a distance of roughly 30 AU. Here, in Wall-E, they are traveling maximum 60 AU.

Also, they are not traveling in early 2000s cause, we are yet to produce that hell amount of garbage to leave earth as a debris. It is far from now in the timescale. So, with advancement of time, definitely they have new technology, robust power supply system from nuclear power etc to enhance speed of the spacecraft (special use of technology saved for the return trip, who knows!! ). Which suggests that it will take even lesser time than Voyeger 1.

Now, I agree with everything Scott said above. You can't get the idea of the speed of a spacecraft comparing it with another planet. If the plant moves with equal velocity of the craft in the same direction, it would look like the craft is not moving at all, which is not true of course !! 700 ship years may not be 700 earth-years if they travel at a speed comparable to the speed of light. As I have mentioned the wiki above, it says Axiom operates 25 hours a day !! Now where this 25th hour came from ??

Why all of a sudden we are talking about Voyeger, lightspeed, reletivity theory in a simple animated movie ? Why everything looks so complicated at the end ?

This is probably a case of "suspension of disbelief" and allowing the storytellers to take creative license in order to tell the story they want, but there are so many factors that raise questions that I have to go ahead and ask.

A significant audience of animated movies are children and they probably should not be bored with all those super intellectual theories. All they want is to enjoy the time, to get lost into a fantasy world where nothing is impossible.

I believe this movie had to deliver a message which it does efficiently.

  • 2
    Regarding your first paragraph, during the Captain's broadcast to the Axiom, he notes that it's the 700th anniversary of the start of the ship's voyage. As for your last few paragraphs, it sounds like your actual answer is just "it's a kid's movie, don't worry about it". I'm not sure that's really an answer. – F1Krazy Nov 26 '18 at 21:24
  • No, those were not an answer to the original question. I just made it a point to justify why sometimes the storytellers have to ignore somethings. – Spectra Nov 26 '18 at 21:28
  • 1
    Thank you for your insight. A couple of points: [1] A more clear indication of the "700 years" is also given at the beginning of Captain McCrea's morning broadcast where he says, "Well, good morning, everybody, and welcome to day 255,642 aboard the Axiom." Translating this from a 25-hour day to a 24-hour day gives us 266,293 days, or approx. 729.57 "Earth years" (give or take for leap years), so the 700 year figure is only a little "off". [2] As for being in the Kuiper Belt, that seems a bit contradictory to what we see, but since it comes from "Captaining the Axiom", [cont...] – G_Hosa_Phat Nov 27 '18 at 14:56
  • [...cont] that gives us a much more concrete location from source material. (I added a screenshot to the question above which shows the scene to which I was referring regarding the "entirety of the galaxy".) If the Axiom is indeed in the Kuiper Belt (still in our solar system), the "issues" I've identified do seem to be resolved satisfactorily. [3] Regarding WALL•E being a "kids' movie", this is certainly true, but most kid movies these days are also created with the parents in mind. This film is no exception as it clearly tries to convey a message about ecological [cont...] – G_Hosa_Phat Nov 27 '18 at 15:06
  • [...cont] disasters to both adults and children. Because Disney, Pixar, and all of the entities involved in this film's production are aware that adults will be watching it, they often/sometimes (not always) take some extra time to look into the "reality" of the world in which they're telling the story. Especially these days, when people like me start nit-picking every little detail apart. – G_Hosa_Phat Nov 27 '18 at 15:10

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .