This weekend I went to see “The Lorax” in IMAX 3D, I had been looking forward to seeing the movies as I’m a fan of Dr. Seuss’ seussisms and use of onomatopoeias. Today, I’ll share with you the “hidden” messages and representations in the book and the movies. Our fearless team leader Karen wrote her take on the story of The Lorax on her blog where she voiced some concerns regarding the portrayal of the Lorax as being a grumpy environmentalist. She and I even had an interesting Facebook conversation on the topic, with her permission see our conversation below:
So, even though Karen was whiney and being a bit of a disgruntled complainer in our conversation, I understood her point and was hoping that, for her sake, the Lorax would be portrayed in a more upbeat way – and he was. However, here’s my take on this. You see, to me the the Lorax is like Erin Brockovich, she was pushy, bossy and persistent. She spoke for the people. She was persistent enough to make a big corporation, PE&G who was contaminating the water that was making local sick, acknowledge their wrong-doing and making them fix it.
Back to the movie. The storyline was a bit more complicated than in the book, but they did have to create a story within a story in order to make a 2 hour blockbuster. The graphics were great, but the musical lyrics weren’t all that great, a little too NEW Willy Wonka-ish for me.
The movie begins with the introduction of Thneed-ville, a city made of plastic where even the trees are manufactured and require 96 batteries. It’s a city where everyone has more than they need and it’s closed off and blind to what’s happening outside their city walls. Sound familiar? It’s a classic case of blind consumerism and over-consumption.
The movie introduces a new character, Mr. O’Hare, a clean air tycoon who after all the Truffula trees were gone capitalized on the selling bottled clean air to the residents of Thneed-ville. He’s created a vicious cycle where the more clean air he manufactures the worse the air quality in the envirnoment gets the more bottle clean air people buy. Mr. O’Hare is the epitome of big box corporations, he is strategic, ruthless, and uncaring. He’s interested in building and increasing the need for his product. He represents the pharmaceutical companies, the Walmarts and GP Gases of the world (just to name a few).
Then there’s Ted, a hormonal teen trying to win over a girl, Audrey. Audrey, is a high-school girl who would give anything to see a tree. Yeah Ted’s agenda is a bit skewed but he ends up the hero because Ted decides that he’s going to set out to find a tree for Audrey. These two along with Ted’s granny are the only three with a clue – granny holds the story of what happened to the trees and tells Ted to see the Once-ler who lives at the edge of town.
If you’ve read the book, you know that the Once-ler is the portrayal of a young capitalist who is overcome with greed and doesn’t see the full extent of his actions until the last Truffula tree is cut down and his business goes bust. In the movie the Once-ler is also portrayed as a young man who is trying to get the approval of his mother who doesn’t think he will succeed at anything. Once he begins to build his empire his family appears. After his family reaps the benefits of his financial success and his business goes bust, the Once-ler’s family leaves with his mother telling him, “You see you’ll never succeed” and declaring his brother as her new favorite. Talk about issues, I actually felt bad for the guy.
Now, the Lorax. His story is told by the Once-ler, as it is in the book. He is a mystical creature that is summoned when the Once-ler cuts the first Truffula tree. He enters with his famous quote, “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.” The Lorax tells the Once-ler he’s going to stick around and keep an eye on him after he promises to never cut another tree. However, the Once-ler goes back on his word leaving the Lorax feeling sad, hurt, and betrayed. After the last truffula tree is cut down, the Lorax sends the forest animals off to find a new home and he lifts himself by his rear and flies off. He leaves the Once-ler to live in his own creation. You know the old quote, “You’ve made your bed now sleep in it”? That’s the message here.
I won’t go into details of the the movie, you’ll just have to go watch it for yourself – I give it 4 stars. However, I will share that I believe Dr. Seuss was a genius. He had the ability to create stories which portrayed the way his saw the world in words a child could understand. So now let me try to summarize the movie for you here in a few words:
In a nut shell big box corporations will be the death of us. Capitalist are mindless, greedy, freaks. We live in a blind consumerist society that is easily drawn to over-consumption because we can’t separate needs from wants. Our world is rapidly turning into Thneed-ville, “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Now, it’s my social responsibility to save you $13.50. You can watch the original “The Lorax” movies here, which has a simpler message.
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