October 10, 2012
You may have noticed the film, The Lorax, at your local cinema or video shop and thought it was only for children.
|Used With Permission - Free Digital Photo|
Although it is a children’s film its powerful message is a cautionary tale for all and you would probably appreciate it.
The film is a lively computer-animated 3D musical comedy based on Dr Seuss’ children’s book by the same name. It was released in March for the 108th birthday of Dr Seuss. The Lorax tells the story of an ecological disaster - but with the hope of recovery.
The film is set in "Thneedville", a city completely enclosed wherein everything is artificial, made of metal, plastic or synthetics. The lead character, 12 year old Ted Wiggins, learns from Audrey, a girl he greatly admires, that there are such things as real trees and he makes it his quest to find one for her. His grandmother tells him that he will have to ask the Once-ler how to find a tree and so Ted sets out on a dangerous journey which takes him outside his artificial world into the wasteland beyond where every living thing has been destroyed. Ted’s mother sees no sense in her son’s mission telling him that they have a perfectly good artificial tree in their yard. Their tree, she tells him, is the latest fashion and has lights for all seasons as well as disco lights!! Ted though is not deterred from his quest and risks the wrath of the mayor of Thneedville. The mayor has no time for real trees as he produces bottled air for the citizens in the absence of real, photosynthesising trees.
Ted finds the Once-ler in the wasteland and over a series of visits the Once-ler tells him the history of trees and his own part in the deforestation and destruction of the land. As a young man setting out to make his fortune the Once-ler chanced into a lush Truffula Tree forest where he met the Lorax. The Lorax was a grumpy but charming orange creature. He was the guardian of the land and after the Once-ler cut down a tree to make a ‘Thneed’ – a scarf-like invention, he insisted that no more trees were to be cut down. However the Once-ler’s greed and that of his family won out and they felled the trees and built factories on the land to mass produce Thneeds, polluting and sky, river and landscape. When the last Truffula Tree fell the Lorax sent the animals away before departing himself into the sky leaving a stonecut word: "Unless". The Once-ler became a hermit in the desolation when his family deserted him for the plastic town of Thneedville.
After telling Ted his sad story, the Once-ler gives him the last Truffula Tree seed. Ted carries it home determined to give it to Audrey and together plant it in the city. The mayor and his henchmen go to great lengths to stop him planting the seed but fortunately the two with the help of Ted’s grandmother succeed. The seed sprouts into a living plant bringing photosynthesis and real hope once again to the plastic city and hence diverting the dangerous devastation of the planet.
Like other Dr Seuss books the story is crafted as a comedy but the message highlights the serious ecological tragedy threatening Earth through deforestation, over consumption and pollution of the air, water and soil. The heroes of the story are the children and grandmother because they recognise the essential authenticity of the real as opposed to the plastic and bottled. The characters in the film are engaging and you may find yourself cheering on Ted and his grandmother when chased by the mayor and his thugs.
If you don’t want to watch this movie by yourself you could arrange to watch it with children and engage them in conversation about the care of Earth afterwards. It may help them to understand why they recycle, try to cut down on plastic bags, and other ecologically based behaviours. Like the Ted and Audrey they too may want to make a difference - “..the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear. UNLESS someone like you cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Ann Gilroy rsj
On behalf of the Josephite Ecology Working Group