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The Lorax-A Message For Children And Adults Alike
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The difference between Seuss' original story and the film lie in the padding, the extra bits added to make it a feature film, and one of these is a backstory for the Once-ler, pUtting a youthful face to him, and a desire to be successful takes from his villainy slightly, it shows how he was enthusiastic and misguided, with a terrible family, ones that refused to show how he was making mistakes, instead opting for making him more of a corporate demon. His Family are awful people who pay very little attention to him until he makes his small fortune, suddenly they are supportive and needy, leading him down a path of destruction for profit. This dynamic takes the responsibility from him, it is after all him who cuts the first tree, then continues when he's making money, ignoring the Lorax's words of wisdom. He is as much after profit as his deadbeat family. Growing up with a crappy family is no excuse for destroying the Earth, nor should it take responsibility from those who make their own decisions.
A look at environmental awareness through film
The new Hollywood version of Dr Seuss’s The Lorax hit cinema’s in July and already there have been various comments and reviews. Some good, some not so good and some plain ridiculous. For people worried about overly in your face environmental awareness or pushy political agenda’s then I would say this film is not for you but it’s an unavoidable part of the story that Dr. Seuss intended. Why should the young not be taught about the importance of trees and having real living things rather than synthetic, especially in times where food is being synthetically made and sold worldwide and with artificial furniture, flowers and body parts part of everyday life?
The film begins showing a colourful town, clean and free of any living things save for the people inhabiting ‘Thneed-ville’. The story goes on to show a boy who wants to find a real tree to impress a high school girl. His grandmother tells him to find the ‘Once-ler’, the only person who knows what happened to the trees. And so he does, to the dismay of the O’Hare, a man who has profited hugely off the lack of trees by selling bottled fresh air.
The film portrays the ‘Once-ler’ as a normal man, an entrepreneur who sought fame and fortune so that his family (A rather horrible, manipulative family at that) would finally be proud of him but becomes gripped with the need to make more money. He invents the ‘Thneed’, a multi-purpose scarf thing that becomes a huge success. He uses the trees to make them however and when he cuts his first one down it brings about the ‘Lorax’ a spirit who speaks for the trees. He is an annoying little orange moustached creature that follows the Once’ler around, along with some very cute animals, making sure he doesn’t harm the trees. When His greedy family arrive they manipulate him into cutting the trees rather than harvesting the fluff bit by bit to which he agrees. He is by no means truly monstrous though and resembles the attitudes of many with his song “How bad can I be?” In the song he asks “How ba-a-a-ad can I be? I'm just building the economy.” With his family telling him that the trees need to be cut down in order to save time and money and for his company to flourish he ignores the Lorax and continues cutting each tree until there is none left. He is a misguided boy who is thinking of his company in short term. When his company finally fails after the destruction of every tree he hides away in shame and anguish in a hollowed tree.
One review of the ‘Lorax’ said “The behaviour of the man, known as the Once-ler, is the most flagrantly unrealistic element: Industrialists who devastate large swaths of land don’t stick around to experience the consequences. They move on to the next target and the next. They buy houses in Palm Beach.” (The Badness of The Lorax Is a Shock By David Edelstein on Vulture.com). The one problem I find with this comment is that the whole point of the story is that the ‘Once-ler’ felt such misery about devastating the land that he couldn’t leave it. If he had indeed gone off to the next target what would there be to learn from the story? It’s the point behind the whole story-“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” The ‘Once-ler’ couldn’t forgive himself unless he found someone willing to help him change what he had done to the land, and when he did find that person, the ‘Once-ler’ gave him the chance to do the right thing.
Another social aspect of the film was the Villain 0’Hare. He made millions off selling bottled air when the Once-lers factories polluted the atmosphere and directly influenced diferent aspects of society to ensure that clear air was always a profitable commodity. The realism behind this was very accurate, portraying him as selfish and manipulative; manufacturing plastic trees that keep the citizens dazzled with their high tech twinkle lights so that no clean air is ever produced. he is so absorbed with profit that he is constantly trying to come up with new ways of selling this fresh air as seen in a very amusing scene with his executives trying to find ways of advertising the air as ‘cool’, and come up with selling it in small plastic bottles, literally selling nothing at all. The advertisement they create sees hip, young, bored, 20 somethings on a roof, until they open a bottle of O Hare Purified Air which immediately turns the roof into a party. The likeness with actual advertising is another comment on how Advertising executives can sell you everything and nothing at all at the same time.
The film over-all was cheery, colourful and interesting from start to finish with many moments for myself of sincere laughter and joy. It has a story that pushes environmentalism and also warns against corporation’s short-termism in destroying trees and the environment and with replacing natural goods with artificial ones. It teaches an important lesson about the world and certainly feels like a possible look into our future in this world. And in a world where things are quickly becoming more and more artificially manufactured, where we are now paying for natural resources like water-something we as living beings have a right to, is there anything wrong with making the younger generations aware of this, of their future? Or maybe its message is aimed at the people bringing the children to the film.
I give this film 5 Stars because it is family friendly, fun and still educational without being pushy. Comical and lighthearted at the beginning, it slowly turns dark, without ever reaching scary levels, the Once-ler is a character that is haunted by his mistakes, and while he is certainly a villain, redemption seems possible.
'How Bad Can I Be?'
links to more about Animated film
- 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' Speaks Truth Through Humour.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is not only hilariously funny but contains social commentary throughout, some subtle, some not.
- 'Megamind': Nature Vs Nurture