I love The Lorax, I’ve loved it for many years, even though I did come to the viewing of it late, and I wasn’t familiar with the original story by Dr Seuss. Not only is it visually striking and entertaining, it’s message is one of real importance. It sheds a light on humanity’s greed and sheer disrespect for the world around them, especially in relation to environments, ecosystems and animals, all through the frame of childlike wondering and incredible animation. It’s incredibly topical and heartbreaking in its realness.
The Lorax, on the surface, is a children’s movie about one boy’s search for a tree to win over the girl he likes, in a world that has become increasingly plastic and fake, with the selling of bottled air because the air outside is unbreathable as a result of all the trees being cut down. But underneath that immediate image, this movie teaches about the detrimental effects of greed and how it benefits no one, especially when it comes at the cost of something bigger than yourself.
On another level, it teaches a lesson about human relationships, and about the importance of each person, no matter how small or insignificant they may feel in the grand scheme of things. It teaches valuable lessons about the importance of caring about the environment, no matter how small your efforts may seem against the corporate greed of humanity or against the greed of one person who changed everything. It sends a message to children and adults alike, that it doesn’t matter how small you are, you can be an activist and you can change things, however, minuscule, to help the bigger picture.
It also showcases some strong female characters, with Ted (the main character) living in a home with his mother and his grandmother, and the question of a father never comes up, he’s clearly never felt like he’s ‘missing’ something, which is an important lesson to teach to kids raised by single parents.
But no matter how you look at this movie, it’s central focus is on greed and how quickly greed can overcome even the noblest of characters, even if the Once-Ler wasn’t the noblest, to begin with. I, for one, cry every single time, without fail, when the Once-Ler sings “How Bad Can I Be?”, especially when he gets to the line, “Who cares if a few trees are dying?” Because it sums up how a lot of business men and women feel about the environment, and climate change, and the animals that live within it being of lesser importance than humans. Which we know is not true, but is a real concern within our society. This message of “who cares about the environment” as long as humans are benefitting, is so painfully seen in the modern world, watching it on the screen hurts so much more.
This movie also highlights how the people in charge can brainwash and use propaganda and lies to gaslight the people living under their rule. We’ve seen this throughout history, whether it was propaganda used in both world wars or the way the Khmer Rouge shut down any access Cambodians had to the outside world and literally set them back decades through genocide and reverting their society back to a “traditional” society; with a focus put on farming.
IN The Lorax, it’s O’Hare that is spewing propaganda and lies about what trees do, and how they don’t produce air that humans need to live, simply because he sells the air, and has become a self-proclaimed ‘zillionaire’. It’s the greed of him, and originally the Once-Ler (who killed the trees because of his own, and his family’s greed), which serves as the backbone of this movie. This culminates in a song sung by all the townspeople, in which they call to “Let It (the last tree seed) Grow.”
This movie also doesn’t have any sign of ageism, with Ted’s grandmother, being one of the most delightful parts of this movie, with Aubrey and Ted both recognising how incredible she is, and considering she’s played by Betty White, I mean even better.
The Lorax is a beautiful and heartwarming film, about the importance of caring for something bigger than yourself, whether it’s the environment or animals or society, just be bigger than the greed we’re taught to have or the racism/sexism/ageism/ableism we’re embedded with. Because, as the movie teaches, “Unless someone like you, cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”