The Lorax of the Southern Wild

Although they may seem completely different at first, Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Lorax (1972 original film) surprisingly share common themes and ideas. Two major themes I want to discuss are the environment and learning from failure.

The Environment

The environment plays a meaningful part in both the films. In The Lorax, the environment is the central focus of the film. What I mean by this is that all of the characters, actions, emotions and feelings all point towards the environment. For example, the Once-ler believes the need for business outweighs the damage he does to the environment in the process, while the Lorax prioritises nature above everything else. The film centres around the clash between these two ideals, which ultimately leads to the Once-ler getting what he wants. As he sits in an abandoned building, with polluted air all around him, he deeply regrets his actions, as the Lorax knew he would. The key ideas of this film revolve around the industrialisation of the planet and how detrimental it is to the environment. Even though The Lorax began as a children’s book, it still contains raw and real themes that we can apply to our everyday lives.

A machine destroying the environment by chopping down Truffula trees.

Similarly, in the Beasts of the Southern Wild, the environment is a focus, even though it may not be the central focus. The ‘Bathtub’ can be compared to the environment at the end of The Lorax. However, its at the other end of the spectrum. Instead of being engulfed in pollution, with no nature and only misery, residents of the Bathtub live primitive lives and practice a dirty ecology, with all their faith in nature. They despise advanced technologies and have adopted a rowdy kind of lifestyle. But this isn’t necessarily a good thing. For example, Wink was forcefully removed from his residence for his own good — it was too dangerous for him. He was taken to a hospital for his condition and even though others tried to help him, he continued to live by his own rules and believed in nature until the very end.

‘The Bathtub’

Learning from Failure

Additionally, Wink can be compared to the Once-ler. Both characters are extremely similar in the way that they don’t learn from their mistakes until its too late. For instance, Wink constantly refuses help from others, whether it be government or hospital aid. He is forcefully removed from his residence and moved to a hospital for his own good, despite being against it. He willingly ‘escapes’ hospital with other Bathtub residents, believing that being “plugged into a wall” will lead to his demise. Wink stubbornly rejects help, even if it affects those around them (like Hushpuppy). His irrational and meaningless decisions only lead to him experiencing poor living conditions (e.g. continuing to stay in the Bathtub, when he could easily move to a more sophisticated place). In comparison, the Once-ler continues to produce Thneeds, fully aware of the fact that he is destroying the environment. He continues to ignore reality until its too late, and all the Truffula trees disappear before his very own eyes.

The Once-ler exiling himself for his past actions

Symbolism

Both the Lorax himself and the aurochs from Beasts of the Southern Wild are imaginary creatures that only exist in the worlds of their respective films. Instead of characters, I like to think of them as things that symbolise certain abstract ideas in each film. In The Lorax, the Lorax is a symbol for the environment. He serves as a constant warning to the Once-ler to protect the environment at all costs, even if it means abandoning his lucrative business. His warnings are ignored but he persists, and after all the Truffula trees are gone, the Lorax becomes a personal symbol for the Once-ler that represents the loss of natural life that occurred. In Beasts of the Southern Wild, a similar comparison can be made — the aurochs symbolise the disasters that loom over Hushpuppy’s community, as well as her father’s death nearing closer and closer.

The Lorax & an auroch

Conclusion

Personally, I preferred watching The Lorax a lot more than Beasts of the Southern Wild. I understand that some people prefer working out the storyline themselves (I do too), and I really enjoy watching movies which you can spend months analysing. But there’s a fine line between those kinds of movies and Beasts of the Southern Wild. To me the pacing was off, the transitions were incoherent and the storyline was dull. But that’s just my opinion.

References

En.wikipedia.org. 2021. The Lorax — Wikipedia. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lorax [Accessed 14 November 2021].

Shmoop.com. 2021. The Lorax Themes. [online] Available at: https://www.shmoop.com/lorax/themes.html [Accessed 14 November 2021].

SuperSummary. 2021. Beasts of the Southern Wild Summary. [online] Available at: https://www.supersummary.com/beasts-of-the-southern-wild/summary/ [Accessed 14 November 2021].

Yaeger, P., 2013. Beasts of the Southern Wild and Dirty Ecology. [online] Southern Spaces. Available at: https://southernspaces.org/2013/beasts-southern-wild-and-dirty-ecology/ [Accessed 14 November 2021].

Youtube.com. 2013. The Lorax (original). [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8V06ZOQuo0k&t=247s&ab_channel=jefronty [Accessed 14 November 2021].

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