A Look Back on The Lorax (1972)

Today we’re going to talk about a famous Dr. Seuss story simply known as The Lorax. Now I should make it no secret that I do NOT think the 2012 movie is a great adaptation. Its animation lends its way to Seuss’ world well and aspects out of the book are translated well but in creating its own material it is horrid. Its dated pop culture references and modern songs make it incredibly dated and pander to the mainstream. And not only is its conflict lacks subtlety but it’s also very much in black and white speaking to less of an audience and is far less memorable than it wants to. But much like most bad Seuss adaptations, there’s a 1900s short that really outdoes it.

The story involves the faceless Once-ler telling a young boy with no name nor background about his story involving the mysterious creature known as the Lorax during a time when the grass was green and the forest was filled with trees. The Lorax clashed with the Once-ler when his greedy business empire began tearing down the forest and ruining the lives of its in habitants to build Thneeds.

In both this version and the 2012 version the story is trying to be a cautionary tale about keeping the environment safe and clean. But this one does far more in its execution. The story is simple enough for kids to follow but it’s a matter of the moral and the ending that stand out which are really heavy for a kids’ cartoon. It’s not saying you can do it as much as if you can you do it. It’s an individual’s choice as to whether or not they want to help and that choice will make a big impact on the future. And we don’t know if the boy at the end decided to plant the Truffula seed or if anyone else followed through with it. It’s not blatantly obvious nor is it easy to chew on which allows the kids plenty to think about which is important.

The animation is…average. It’s not what you would consider cheap there is some effort with the colors and the movement but you can really see the low budget but it’s passable for the most part.

There are also songs and they are classic tunes with nice instrumental work and good singing and have a classic and timeless feel to them. It’s just that in comparison to the rest of the story, it’s not something that stands out for me.

Then there’s the matter of the characters, which once again really make this short. When it comes to the Once-ler and the Lorax there is no real bad guy as much as it is just them doing what they think is best: The Lorax trying to help his fellow forest friends and the Once-ler just doing the best for his business and the people involved in it. Even though the Once-ler spends most of his time coming up with excuses to help his business when there’s a situation that can cause damage there are times where he does prove the Lorax wrong. Another detail I liked was keeping his face hidden which further shows how this can be anyone who takes too much of something without seeing it. And the boy towards the end is in the same boat. We don’t know anything about him and much like the Once-ler he could be anyone seeking to do anything wanting to learn about this story for any reason.

This version of The Lorax may be smaller in budget but bigger things come in small packages. With rock solid story and characters, decent animation and songs, this is a short that can speak to anyone from any era.