The Lorax

By Dr. Seuss

Today I saw an ad for a new children’s movie, coming soon! It was colourful, bouncy, environmental… it was Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.

I love Dr. Seuss. His stories are unique and entertaining. Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop, Green Eggs and Ham. Who hasn’t read these stories? They’re seminal in the literary development of children, and The Lorax is no different.

To me, The Lorax was the Dr. Seuss story I could never find. I still don’t own it as a story on it’s own – I’m not even sure it exists in it’s own paperback. I first read it in a Seuss treasury, and I found it rather dark. The story opens on a desolate, over-industrialized location, where an unseen man/woman/thing called the Once-ler hides behind bordered windows, but is willing to peer out to tell you a story for the right price.

The story of The Lorax is a tale of industrialization. The land is clean, the colours bright and sunny when an entrepreneur sets up shop, and starts cutting down the valuable¬†Truffula trees for his business. As the business becomes more successful, he starts over-cutting. The eponymous Lorax appears, saying that he speaks for the trees and tells him to stop. But the Once-ler keeps on cutting, slowly developing a great industrial marvel while destroying the land. When the last tree is cut, the Lorax takes all the displaced and harmed animals away where they can’t be hurt anymore.

It’s a simple, but effective story. Watch the colour cues, and the way industrialization is dark while the environment is light. All mixed in with Dr. Seuss’ silly drawings; my favorite is his depiction of the garment the entrepreneur makes.

So, back to the movie. Obviously, since it’s not out yet, I can’t really comment, but I admit that I’m a bit concerned. For more movies, the issue fans have is that you are, inevitably, cutting things out. Whereas with Dr. Seuss, we have proven that an entire story can be told in a 30 minute special. The solution is that a lot of extra padding is added, as evidenced by How the Grinch Stole Christmas or The Cat in the Hat. So far, it’s had mixed results.

The Lorax will be done in animation, rather then real life, and the animation looks good! I admit, I will go see it when it comes out. I’m interested to see how they will interpret the story. There will be padding, for sure. But what will they focus the padding on? Will they keep the ending the same? The ending and the beginning is what makes The Lorax so effective.

What do you think? Will you go see The Lorax when it hits theatres? Do you think children’s picture books should be made into movies?

Christmas Specials – How The Grinch Stole Christmas!

Based on the work of Dr Seuss

If you were of the right age (which I am not), you would swoon over the pair of Dr. Seuss and Boris Karloff. Or you would cock your head and go “whaaat?”

For those of you not in the know, Boris Karloff was an actor in the 1930’s who played, among others, the iconic role of Frankenstein’s Monster. Basically, a horror movie actor of extreme popularity. What does this have to do with Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!? Why, he was the narrator! And the Grinch’s voice. And it’s probably the only reason kids today might have any clue who Boris Karloff is. Though, to be fair, at least he’s still known for being mean, green, and terrifying. Or at least green.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas! is one of those classic Christmas specials that should and will never die. It is short, sweet, and captures the story of Dr. Seuss’ story perfectly. We all know the story, and if you don’t then please go watch the video below; we cannot let this travesty continue.

In brief: every Who down in Whoville loved Christmas a lot. But the Grinch who lived just north of Whoville did not. Therefore, he decided it was an excellent idea to steal Christmas by taking all their presents!

Okay, so that doesn’t rhyme very well. Or at all. Luckily, Dr. Seuss’ version is much more readable. But that’s the gist: the Grinch hates Christmas and wants to take it away. Because he especially hates the noise of the presents and the Whos singing, he decides to steal the presents, dressing as Santa Claus to escape notice. When the night is done and he’s about to dump the presents off the mountain, he hears singing; the Whos are singing a welcome to Christmas despite all their presents being gone. Suddenly understanding the meaning of Christmas, the Grinch rides back down the hill, delivering all the presents back to the village folk.

In essence, the story is about the true meaning of Christmas being not in the presents, but in the spirit of the season; the love and giving. It seems simplistic, but who said Christmas had to be complicated? The part where the Grinch’s heart grows is one of my favorite scenes, and I love the “Welcome Christmas” song the Whos sing. There are only three songs in the special, and each one of them has a special place in my heart. That’s what nostalgia does, kids: makes you miss things you see only once a year. But that means it’s working!

The special is faithful to the book with only a few embellishments (like the songs). While I cannot, at all, be considered an expert or even mildly informed in the art of animation, I enjoy what the special has done. The details of the special mimic a Seuss-ian feel, with simple lines and stylistic angles. When the Grinch goes slithering around the floor after presents, you feel kind of creepy, but it’s funny too. If you consider this like a book, then the animation is great, because it can interest young children without overwhelming them with details.

I have not seen specials on television of late, but perhaps I’m missing the proper times and channels. If you happen to see this special when flipping through your local listings, make sure to call your kids and enjoy 30 minutes of the Grinch.

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