[22 February 2012]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax: Deluxe Edition is available as a a Blu-ray combo pack that includes both the high definition Blu-ray and DVD editions of the the classic animated TV special, as well as an Ultraviolet digital copy.
This version of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax—not to be confused with the 2012 big-budget movie of the same name starring the voice talents of Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Betty White and Danny DeVito—was first broadcast in 1972 and features narration by the wonderful Eddie Albert (Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, Escape to Witch Mountain). The story follows a young boy (Harlen Carraher) as he tries to find out what happened to the desolate land around him.
He seeks out the Once-ler (Bob Holt) who tells him a tale of greed and regret. The boy learns the land was once a beautiful thriving forest full of fantastical Truffula trees. The forest was inhabited by creatures like the Brown Bar-ba-loots, Swami-Swans and Humming-Fish, who were all dependent upon the wondrous Truffula trees. The trees themselves are watched over, or represented, by a wise old creature called The Lorax—he “speaks for the trees.”
The Once-ler begins chopping down the Truffulas to make all-in-one garments called “Thneeds”, which he then convinces every Once-ler around are things that they need. The Lorax tries to warn the Once-ler of the terrible consequences of his deeds, but the Once-ler is blinded by greed and begins clear-cutting the forest. One by one the creatures of the forest are forced out of their homes because the Truffula trees are no longer able to sustain them.
The Lorax keeps returning to the Once-ler, pleading the plight of the trees, but he is not heeded and eventually he, too, is driven away. It’s only after the Truffula tree forest is stripped bare and the Once-ler’s fortunes fail, that he realizes he should have listened to The Lorax.
All of this might seem a little dark, and kind of preachy, for something aimed at children (albeit with an adult sensibility), especially because we usually associate Dr. Seuss with lighter lessons. However, this is not all doom and gloom. The distinct Seussian visual style, with its bright colors and curled and curvy creatures, is here and as delightful as ever. Also present are the requisite rhymes and songs (chances are, you know these songs, whether you consciously realize it or not). And of course, there’s the hope. What Dr. Seuss story would be complete without that?
As the Once-ler finishes his sad, remorseful recounting, he gives the boy the very last Truffula tree seed. It only takes one for hope to grow, you know.
So, sure, Seuss might have been a bit heavy-handed with the anti-consumerism, pro-environmentalism lesson with The Lorax, but the story does what it’s meant to do quite well, anyway. It teaches kids the value of nature, the need for conservation, and the importance of hope. It also lets them in on the fact that even one person can make a difference. A lesson for all, a lesson indeed.
Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax: Deluxe Edition, also includes The Lorax: The Trees! The Trees! The Voice of the Trees featurette, and two extra Dr. Seuss animated tales, Butter Battle Book and Pontoffel Pock & His Magical Piano.