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General, Movie Reviews, Nature, Uncategorized

Movie Review: The Lorax: Who Speaks for Our Trees?

I had the pleasure of attending a free screening to see The Lorax a few days before it hit theaters, and was thrilled to check my cynicism at the door in order to receive a healthy dose of optimism.

The children this film is meant to entertain hopefully won’t notice the irony of the film’s industrial sponsors that you may have heard of such as Mazda or Hewlett-Packard. Looking past the dozens upon dozens of corporate sponsors, the message is still loud and clear: it is never too late to make positive change.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, and I don’t want to give too much away, the film is set in post-apocalyptic Thneed-ville, where the pollution has become so wretched, that its residents require bottled air to survive. A young boy, in his wish to impress a girl, sets out to find a ‘real’ tree, because they were completely wiped out of Thneed-ville years ago. The film resonated all too clearly with me as I watched a young boy ride through barren, treeless landscapes to find ‘The Once-ler’ (the main character from the book and this film’s narrator), that this could be our children’s children’s future. I like to think that at this point in the game, with environmentalists abundant and quite vocal, it couldn’t be possible for our civilization to get to a point where we rid the world of an entire species of tree, however, humans have wiped out entire species before, so can we really be too careful?

Many reviewers have torn the film’s sponsorship apart for its hypocrisy, and though I find that valid and all too indicative of our industrial world, these sponsors don’t change the plot and outcome of the story. What we find is a man full of remorse for the damage he inflicted upon his environment, instilling his last hopes in a young boy who is given the task of bringing the lost and forgotten ‘Truffala’ trees back to life. Can he really succeed?

And what can we learn? The first question I asked myself is who is our real-life Lorax? Who speaks for the trees? Though there are many environmental groups out there, I sometimes find it difficult to figure out who is truly defending our natural world and who is just defending their bottom line. But that is the cynic in me. A movie like this helps me remember why I became so impassioned with these issues in the first place. For me, a large part of it is to ensure that the next generation will learn about polar bears, Indian elephants, and basking sharks as thriving species, rather than extinct ones. Now all we need is a charming little kid to show us all what we’ve been doing wrong and inspire us to make lasting change (and perhaps a song or two)?

I don’t think there is anything wrong with a fresh dose of hope – especially when we live in such an embittered world. Spending weeks harping on the industry’s hypocrisy doesn’t do anything – that will take decades to change, if it does at all. Now is the time to focus on what this movie can do to call further attention to environmental stewardship – especially for those who aren’t using it to turn a profit – like the kids the film (and book!) was written for in the first place. It is time for all of us to expose our inner Lorax!

Go see the movie and share your comments! How do you find The Lorax relevant for the environmental movement today?

Disclaimer: Having not read The Lorax for at least fifteen years by now, my viewing experience wasn’t marred by childhood memories and expectations for true likeness to the book. However, my good friend and fellow attendee religiously watched the original cartoon and read the book as a child and found the film really enjoyable, so rest assured it will at least be entertaining!

In addition, because I didn’t spend too much time on it, I would highly recommend looking into some of the commentaries on the sponsorship; I thought this Forbes article did a great job of tying it all together. And if you are really looking for some of those stark raving mad reviews, I recommend Grist.




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