An environmental cautionary tale

Published in 1971, The Lorax carries an environmental message that still rings true today amidst the dangers of logging, pollution, and disregard for our fragile environment. In The Lorax, we find what we’ve come to expect from the beloved Dr Seuss: brilliantly whimsical rhymes, delightfully creatures, and weird undulating illustrations. But here there is also something more – a powerful message that Seuss implores both adults and children to heed.

How apt to see the Singapore Environmental Council handing out tickets to their staff and partners during the preview session too. Apart from its strong environmental themes, especially regarding issues such as deforestation, and air and water pollution. The film also speaks strongly against greed, and the capitalist system.

Dr. Seuss’s books, though aimed at kids, often explore topics that can be fodder for controversy in this day and age. Some think it unsuitable for kids, and others call it a sort of propaganda. Personally, I do not see how a sweet little book as such could be found as fault.

In his 30th book, The Lorax tells the story of a mystical creature called the Lorax, who watches over a pristine forest full of colorful Truffula Trees and carefree animals. A merry and naive adolecent called The Once Ler moves in, chops down the trees, pollution the water and air, which forces the animals, and eventually the Lorax, to leave.

The setting is still the polluted town of Thneedville, where trees don’t grow and fresh air is sold in jars. (Something I find quite frightening when I think for the future). In the original book, the character – called ” The Once ler” was never revealed, but illustrated as a mysterious character with a pair of green gloved hands. The other characters include “Ted”, a character named after Dr.Seuss. And Taylor Swift who plays “Audrey”, a new character named after Seuss’ widow, Audrey Geisel, who happens to be the producer of the film. Admist Ted’s quest to find a living tree for his object of interest, Audrey. He is led to The Once Ler who betows upon him the seed of the last Truffala tree at the end of the show.

The ending is both grim and hopeful:As all the trees were gone, and the Lorax floats away “through a hole in the smog” but leaves a pile of rocks with the word “Unless” written across them.

The quote “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s Not,” flashes across the screen. And as it turns out, we’ve got a happy ended where the Truffula tree seed survives, and holds out the promise that if it is treated with care, the the trees will grow once again”.

For those who are keen on the lovely book – here’s the book on youtube. Pardon the quality, but enjoy the rhymes anyway.

A little note of thanks to and United Pictures for tickets to the media preview of The Lorax.