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In the walled city of Thneed-Ville, where everything is artificial and even the air is a commodity, a boy named Ted hopes to win the heart of his dream girl, Audrey. When he learns of her wish to see a real tree, Ted seeks out the Once-ler, a ruined old businessman outside of town in a stark wasteland. Upon hearing of how the hermit gave into his greed for profits and devastated the land over the protests of the Lorax, Ted is inspired to undo the disaster. However, the greedy Mayor of Thneed-Ville, Aloysius O'Hare, has made his fortune exploiting the environmental collapse and is determined to stop the boy from undermining his business. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Lorax: one of the few truly great political films
The Lorax is one of the best movies I've ever seen, but it's also one of the most troubling. Its depth politically is, I believe, unmatched in children's literature; Dr. Seuss is truly a master, but this is, like Cirque du Soleil, art for which you might need to be prepared.
By telling you to "be prepared," however, I don't mean to say you should go read up on film history. Sure, you'll miss a trick or two if you don't, but there's enough material to keep you very, very interested even if you're not a film student. Nor, in fact, should you even feel the need to read up on American history; it suffices to say that, to be very simplistic about it, as the France was to Algeria at the time, so U.S. was to Vietnam. Really, if you wanted to be ready for ALL the intellectual references and name-dropping, you ought to have a good classical education. That's hard to get, so I can't possibly suggest that...
What I do mean by "be prepared" is: be prepared for colors that might not make sense, be prepared to consider your place in the world... be prepared to think about the movie while it's running. Hollywood encourages us to turn off our brains while we're watching a movie; Seuss doesn't allow it. His books are intentionally aggravating and annoying at times, but Seuss knows precisely what he's doing, and he manipulates the reader expertly. (The infamous "Sneetches" is to this day the most annoying and at the same time one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.) Be prepared to consider your place in society, society's place in the world, and the problems of those situations. Seuss raises numerous incredibly important questions: what is the final fate of literature and the wealths of past generations handed down after political upheaval is finished with them? what is the point of any rhetoric-- communist or otherwise-- in a world of selfish, stupid bourgeois pigs (and, as anyone who's ever worked in fast food will tell you, this one is)? does art even have a purpose in a marketplace? I personally disagree with those who claim that The Lorax is dated and only interesting historically. The message is only obscured to us because the draft is no longer in full swing and because the entertainment industry has succeeded in lulling us into false security. We still have our Vietnams, though they may be secret; and, facts must be faced, most of us are still complete and total jerks, caring very little for the world around us and very much for our own pleasure. At the heart of Dr. Seuss' movie is a deep and abiding love and compassion for humanity; the decadence of the world around us, however, forces the surface of the film to be cynical and hateful toward all the disgusting influences which keep us from being what we could be, and manifesting itself in the various real-world consumer products we see in literally every other scene.
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