Feature Films, Literature, Schools of Thought, Visuals
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Revisiting “The Lorax,” Original Animation from 1972

As I’m sure many people are aware, the beloved story by Dr. Seuss “The Lorax” was remade in 2012 by Universal Pictures. I didn’t see this new version, but I certainly remember seeing the original animation from 1972 even though I wasn’t born until much later. I don’t remember where I saw it, whether it was at home or perhaps they showed it to us at school – it didn’t tend to garner the same repeat airtime that “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” original animation did during the Holiday season.

Still, I recall the watching experience as an enjoyable one. I specifically remember the part where the little boy is going to see the Onceler – the long green covered arms, the creaky window, and the platform of stones. Everything is dark, no brightly covered Truffula trees yet.

What I didn’t remember was how well done this animation truly is. I don’t consider myself an animation connoisseur by any means and so I am quick to present admonition. Perhaps it’s just a yearning for the way cartoons used to be in the days before flashy 3-D animation, which always aesthetically confuses me a little. To me, the settings look nearly photo realistic and the human characters like plastic dolls that move in an incredibly fluid way.

The New “Lorax” movie

Or, it could be the fact that corporate greed is still very much a contemporary and critical problem and I admire the animation and book for so succinctly portraying the effects of one of our most prominent human weaknesses.

Ironic. Using the Lorax to advertise corporate goods.

I also didn’t remember the music score, which is gloriously 70’s esque! The opening credits have big blowing horns and short staccato notes accompanied by xylophone melodies. It’s so upbeat, it sounds like the beginning of a 70’s sitcom. In fact, if you closed your eyes and listened to it, images of a strange Mary Tyler Moore spinoff starts running through your head, with close up frames of smiling faces and arbitrary clips of cast members doing arbitrary things like walk into rooms or run down the street and it lets you know that you’re ready for 30 minutes of family fun! Or maybe that’s just me…

Re-watching The Lorax as an adult made me appreciate it a great deal. It successfully retains the sing-songy rhyme scheme as the book even while adding in original music pieces. It takes the display of greed and the parallels between the Oncler and CEO’s of large companies that is simply implied in the book a step further in order to make it quite literally about the corporate world’s effect on the environment. It is both sad and inspiring at the same time, and though I’ve seen it before, it especially resonates with me now, twenty-something years later.

You can rewatch the original animation of “The Lorax” (or perhaps view for the first time) here:


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