UNLESS someone cares, nothing is going to get better

That is the message of the movie, The Lorax (or the book published in 1971 for that matter). I have not been a fan of Dr. Seuss books for long. I was introduced to them in my graduate classes. One of my graduate professors read to us a Dr. Seuss’ story in the beginning of every class. Yes, in a graduate class, and since then I have been a fan. Thus, I felt the urge to go watch the movie with my family. The movie’s main idea is to save the forest, and the The Lorax is the gatekeeper of the forest. It begins with the tale a young boy residing in a polluted world who visits a strange creature called the “Once-Ler,” who leaves in darkness, to inquire where he can find a tree, a living tree. The boy learns that in order to get a living tree he needs to understand the history behind the poor state his world is in, and he later discovers that that the world was in darkness, without trees, because of Once-Ler’s wrong doings.

I believe the message of the story is very relevant not only with regards to today’s environmental issues, but it also addresses the issues of capitalism and greediness. In the story, Once-Ler’s represents the dichotomy of the victimizer and the victim. As a victimizer – because of greediness– he displaces the living from their homes, the forests, to carry out with his business plan and to make profits without taking into consideration the long-term effects of his business, nor the destruction of nature.  As a victim – he is constantly seeking the approval of his family, in particular of his mother, to be accepted as the favourite son. And the only way he could show that is by making money, a lot of it. Only then will his mother and family show him signs of affection. As his business grows, in order to keep up with demands and please his mother he cuts down the beautiful Truffula Trees rather than harvesting them. This decision, heavily influenced by his mother (who, in my mind, represents pure capitalism) is quick and easy and overlooks the long-term effects for instant profit.  Eventually, the forest entered darkness and creatures were displaced from their homes to no mans’ land. We don’t know what happen to these creatures in the long run, but one assumes that they die.

Therefore, in my opinion, this story it worth reflecting on capitalism that is still pervasive. Think about the U.S. economy and the ways in which many people have been displaced from their homes and their cities, without jobs and futures no one knows where they go and how they survive. Other more recent capitalist behaviour is seen in Toronto, where politicians are looking for quick fix to generate revenue disregarding long term socially destructive consequences, see Casino a bad bet for Toronto published in the Toronto Star. See also OLG pushes for Toronto casino in expansion bid published today at The Globe and Mail.

Reflecting back on the movie, The Lorax, may have disappointed some because of its predictability. There are no surprises; adults know what is coming next. However, children had a different take because the issues presented and the visual interactions are all new to them. Personally, I enjoyed the movie. I’m disappointed with most movies happy endings though. It seems the producers and writers want to end with optimism, but in real life, this rarely happens. The Lorax like any other children’s story has a happy ending. Once-Ler is able to rectify his mistake and he’s forgiven for destroying the forest. He gets absolved from his wrong-doings because he is able to fix them. But taking into consideration that this movie is for a young audience, the ending was appropriate and brought up the conscious and the consequences of wrong doings to the environment.

In general, the movie was a fantastic animation with a great story. What struck me the most visually was the breath-taking illustrations of the trees with bright-coloured tufts.  I just loved them. If I ever have the urge to create graffiti on a wall, I would paint those bright-coloured tufts, Truffula Trees. I enjoyed the 3-D movie, and its interactions and contradictions with the Kaleidoscopic and gloomy world. Finally, not to forget the little orange man, The Lorax, who had a huge heart and represented the wisdom that lies within each of us.

It is the wise little orange man that entrusts us with the words: “Unless someone cares, nothing is going to get better.”

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