As a member of the Tots100 film club, I was recently sent The Lorax to review. Not the version that was recently seen in cinemas, but the animated television special from 1972 based on the book by Dr. Seuss. I wasn't familiar with the story at all, and I was pleasantly surprised. The film was perfect for Harry - not too long, bright and colourful, with plenty of little songs and a simple story. It tells the tale of the Once-ler, who arrives in a beautiful valley filled with truffula trees and populated by the bear-like Bar-ba-Loots, who eat the fruit from the trees. The Once-ler cuts down one of the trees, and sets up a small shop selling Thneeds, which are made from the trees. His actions cause the Lorax to appear, who questions what he is doing as he speaks for the trees. The Once-ler doesn't pay any attention, and calls in his family to help him build his business, which keeps growing and growing.
The factory built by the Once-ler gradually pollutes the area, driving away the Bar-ba-Loots, the fish and the birds. Eventually, with the once beautiful surroundings now destroyed, the final truffula tree is chopped down and the factory has to close. The Lorax carries himself away, leaving the Once-ler behind alone with a small rock, carved with the word "Unless".
Harry sat quietly and watched the film the whole way through (admittedly, it is only about half an hour long). I was delighted when after we finished watching, Harry announced that he wanted to play it with his Duplo. He instructed me in how to build truffula trees from tall piles of bricks, then he constructed a factory where he took the chopped down trees to turn them into Thneeds. While pleased that that the film had inspired screen-free creative play, we did have to have a chat about how it wasn't good that the trees had been chopped down, and that trees are much nicer if they are left where they are.
I think that the film has a really important message, and the way in which it is presented makes it very appealing to young children. We will definitely be watching this film over and over again, and I hope to use it as an introduction to teaching Harry about how important it is to live in harmony with the environment.