Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax: Movie Review
The Lorax is initially a movie about our responsibility to care for the earth. If you look a little deeper, it’s a movie about the big impact (both positive and negative) even very small things can have—a choice, a lie, a promise, a boy, a seed. But if you look even a little beyond that, you’ll see that The Lorax is (intentionally or not, I don’t know) actually a loose retelling of the story of mankind as found in the Bible.
The Lorax begins with a young, single man who finds himself in a wonderful little paradise. There is harmony and beauty and singing and dancing…it’s pretty cute actually. (Personally, I loved the singing fish trio!) The bears, the fish, the human…all the creatures get along and enjoy each other’s company. A wise creature, the Lorax, comes from above to speak to the man and give him guidance about how to take care of paradise. His guidance centers around one restriction—don’t cut down the trees.
The story of mankind begins in much the same way. There’s a man alone in paradise (at least he’s alone for a while, and eventually he’s given a wife because it is paradise, after all!)—a perfect world full of harmony and beauty. He too has a very wise being (aka GOD) who comes from above and talks with him and gives him guidance about how to take care of paradise. Similarly, he too is given an important restriction which is critical to his enjoyment of paradise. Also similarly, that restriction centers around trees. He was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
In The Lorax, temptation to violate this one restriction comes from two combined sources: family and profit. You see, the boy (called The Once-Ler) had a wildly popular invention, the production of which required harvesting the tops of the trees. This could be done without cutting the trees down, but was much slower. Thus the temptation to speed things up, to make more money faster by taking a short-cut (pun intended), but he resisted…until his mother started pressuring him and lying to him. She promised him she would be proud of him, promised him it wouldn’t hurt anything—all lies. She was right about one thing though—she said it would speed things up and make him a lot of money…and it did.
Adam, our man in the Garden of Eden, faced a similar combination of temptation. The fruit was very appealing. It looked good to eat. He was also pressured by a woman, his wife, to give into temptation. His wife had been listening to a serpent who told her (and Adam by proxy) a bunch of lies as he encouraged her to just take a little bite and try it. The serpent promised both of them that it wouldn’t hurt anything. He lied.
In both stories, paradise was lost through one man’s actions. It was a slow loss in The Lorax—over time all the trees were harvested, nothing was left but a wasteland. In the Bible, it was an instant loss—Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden then and there, and the curse of sin entered the world. In either case, disobedience was costly. Paradise was lost and/or destroyed. Even more devastating than the loss of paradise, was that each man lost that direct, daily, friendly communication with the wise counselor (the Lorax or God, depending on the story) which he had previously enjoyed. And both men had to live with the fact that future generations would be gravely affected by their disobedience.
But, the stories don’t stop there—neither of them! Just as paradise was lost and ugliness entered the world through one man, so too, restoration and beauty entered the world through one man.
In The Lorax, paradise is regained when a young boy, Ned, fights against all the powers that be (namely the evil ruler who profits off of manufactured oxygen, the same oxygen which would be freely available if trees were around to produce it) to plant the only remaining seed of a tree. Once planted, that seed began to grow into a tree, and from it came other seeds which became trees… and so forth.
In the story of mankind, paradise is regained when a young boy, Jesus, enters the world. He fights against the powers that be (the religious and political rulers as well as the spiritual forces of evil), the powers which profit off of manufacturing things which Jesus knows God wants to offer us for free. Things like grace, freedom, life, peace, joy, and forgiveness (to name a few). In order to restore paradise, a seed is required in this story too. Jesus explains, “Unless a [seed] falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus himself is that seed. He dies and then rises from the dead.
Once that seed was planted and began to grow into a tree in The Lorax, not only was there oxygen freely available to the people again, but the Lorax himself returned to speak once again with the Once-Ler. In our story, the story of mankind, once Jesus died and rose again, not only was eternal life, forgiveness of sins, etc. freely available to us again, but communication between God and man was also restored.
As you watch The Lorax, discuss it with your children or with friends. We hope you can take advantage of the opportunity it so easily presents to share the message of Christ and all that he did to restore things on earth.
Questions for Discussion:
- I have heard people struggle with the idea that all of mankind has to live with the effects of one man’s sin. Does the story of the Once-Ler help you understand the concept of how one man’s actions can affect everyone?
- Sin entered the world through one man’s actions just as salvation entered the world through one man’s actions (in The Lorax and in the Bible). What things have you done which affected others, good and/or bad?
- Can you think of times when you have been affected either positively or negatively by someone else’s actions? Have you been able to forgive the negative examples? How has it made you feel to benefit from someone else’s actions?
- How did you feel about the man in The Lorax who profited off of selling oxygen, when oxygen should have been free to all? How does it make you feel to know that Satan wants to keep things from you which you should be able to access freely—things like life, joy, peace, love, forgiveness, etc.?
- What parallels do you see between the oxygen that the trees gave to the world in The Lorax and the eternal life which Jesus gave to our world?
- What similarities do you see between the Lorax (the creature, not the movie) and God? In what ways are they different?