This week’s short article on a short film comes courtesy of a recommendation by Twitter friend @Grizzly_Sar, a lifelong fan of The Lorax who, like most, was thoroughly disappointed by the latest shiny, empty adaptation of the book. So to coincide with the release of that rather lacklustre animation, here is an article and a link to a much older version of The Lorax that does a far better job of capturing the Seussian spirit of the book. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s an interesting contrast to the latest version.
One of my biggest complaints about the latest Lorax film is that it was just a bit too glossy to really make an impact. It was a film that speaks against mass produced rubbish, yet was perhaps guilty of being that very thing. It was a bit too sleek to be true Seuss. So here, instead, is a film that is a far more direct adaptation Dr Seuss, complete with rough lines, rhyming couplets and his distinctive character designs. It’s a lot shorter, but the advantage of this is that they cut out the pointless plot of a boy trying to impress a girl, and get straight to the actual Lorax plot. This section of the plot is remarkably similar to the feature film, in which ‘The Once-ler’ invents a multi-purpose thing called a Thneed, and becomes remarkably successful at the cost of the local wildlife.
It is, however, a far more effective piece of story telling than the Zac Efron/Taylor Swift film, making more of the eponymous character as he tries to defend the trees he loves. It feels VERY 1970s, complete with a funky soundtrack and rubbish songs, but does a much better job of getting the message across. Where the recent film addresses the rampant growth of capitalism with one awful song, here it’s the focus of the film, as each set of animals gets ousted from their home one by one, and we see the machinations of the factory that’s ruining the landscape. Neither film is subtle, neither film will win music awards, but Hawley Pratt’s short has something that was so crucially lacking from the 2012 version: character. It’s a charming, amusing little film, with some nice Seussian artwork and an admirable commitment to rhyming.