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article imageReview: ‘The Lorax’ brings its environmental message to home video

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 14, 2012 in Entertainment
Soon to be a feature-length animation, ‘The Lorax’ is a Dr. Seuss classic about industrialization’s effects on the environment. This 30-minute episode could not make the message clearer. It’s available on DVD Feb. 14.
Another of Dr. Seuss’ classic tales will be making its big screen debut next month. But first, the original short adaptation is receiving the home video treatment, along with two other shorts by the children’s author. The Lorax contains one of the good doctor’s more powerful messages and it couldn’t come out at a better time.
The story begins when a boy visits the Once-ler to find out what happened to the Lorax. Some time ago, the Once-ler came across the lush Truffula Tree and became enamoured with its beauty. So he chops one down and uses its foliage to knit a “Thneed,” a peculiar but adaptable garment he insists everyone needs. To ensure everyone can have one, he begins to manufacture Thneeds at the expense of the surrounding forest and the creatures that live in it – including the Lorax, who speaks for the trees. Eventually, the Once-ler’s greed chases away all the animals, including the Bar-ba-Loots and Humming Fish, and destroys the forest, leaving him to live their alone in a wasteland.
This is an environmental narrative about the dangers of an industrialized society to nature. The Once-ler’s disregard for the damage he is inflicting on the creatures that lived there before him is distressing. The Lorax’s pleas fall on deaf ears and he is forced to say good-bye to his friends as the pollution and deforestation forces them out of their homes and beyond.
The TV special is a condensed version of the children’s book that extends the message to an animated medium. It may appear too gloomy for younger audiences, but its significance is never too early learn. The clever rhymes make it amusing and engaging, while the cute, unusual creatures drive home the film’s meaning. The latest trailer for the feature-length film of the same name to be released in March appears to retell the same general story, though none of the scenes are familiar looking.
The other Dr. Seuss shorts included in the release are: Pontoffel Pock and His Magic Piano, and Butter Battle Book. The former is an unusual tale of man who does not fit in, so his wish to get away is granted by faeries who offer him an enchanted piano that will take him around the world at back at the push of a few buttons. The latter is an account of the feuding Yooks and Zooks, who live on opposite sides of a wall and dislike each other because they butter and eat their bread differently; they eventually engage in an arms race that parallels the Cold War.
Director: Hawley Pratt
Starring: Eddie Albert, Bob Holt and Harlen Carraher
Special features include: “The Lorax: The Trees! The Trees! The Voice of the Trees” featurette, exploring trees from around the world and their importance in our daily lives; and two animated stories: “Pontoffel Pock and His Magic Piano” and “Butter Battle Book.” (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group)
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