I am sure the majority of us have heard of the name Dr. Seuss. Over the course of his life, Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote and illustrated dozens of classic books that have immortalized his name in children’s literature. And to celebrate what would have been his 117th birthday today, I would like to talk about his famous book “The Lorax” and its 1972 short film adaptation.
For those who don’t know, “The Lorax” is Dr. Seuss’ 1971 children’s book featuring a small, orange creature with a bushy mustache who “speaks for the trees” and protests against the “Once-ler,” a businessman who cuts down trees to make his product called a “Thneed.” The overall moral of the story is about protecting the environment and how greed can lead some to destroy it for personal gain. The year after the book was published, CBS produced and aired a short film version. This cartoon version almost exactly follows the plot line of the book as the script was written by Dr. Seuss himself.
Not only is the short film a joy to watch but it is also very thought provoking. In my opinion, I think it is one of Dr. Seuss’ best stories as it conveys a message that is very near to reality. If you look at the news every once in a while you will undoubtedly see stories about deforestation, endangered animals and climate change. When the Lorax confronts the Once-ler in the film about his greedy behavior causing animals to flee their homes and the environment to be polluted, the Once-ler states that it would be “bad economics” to shut his factory down.
I have often heard this mindset when it comes to the debate over people’s jobs versus caring for the environment. And considering that this film was made back in 1972, it really shows us that not a lot has changed since then.
Now, all of this brings me to my main point. Every year, the United States National Film Preservation Board selects a variety of films deemed culturally or historically important enough to be preserved in the National Film Registry. The registry was founded in 1988 and has since preserved hundreds of important full-length films, shorts and documentaries (among others). Last year, the registry preserved some well-known films such as “Shrek,” “Grease” and “The Dark Knight.”
The only true criteria to be considered for preservation is that the film must be at least 10 years old. This year is the 49th anniversary of “The Lorax” short film, and yet it has never been preserved in the registry. Considering that the film is practically a mirror image of the well-known Dr. Seuss book and produces such a powerful message about taking care of the environment, I believe that the film deserves to be preserved in the registry to ensure future generations can enjoy and learn from this powerful animation based off of a classic American author’s work.