Ken Daurio, Chris Renaud and Ed Helms in Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

Well-known children’s author Dr. Seuss left behind a legacy of stories to his wife, Audrey Geisel, who has overseen them since his death. His work is iconic both in literature and film to American audiences. Translating these books into live-action or animation films has proven a difficult task, especially when trying to create an appeal for international audiences. Although the stories work well in animation films, as the original books relied heavily on artwork, it does not seem to succeed with live action films.

Earlier films, like Cat in the Hat, did not work well and Geisel refuses to let any other live action versions of these books be made.

Geisel believes the stories embody common themes and thinks playing to this idea will help make them popular elsewhere in the world. Producer Chris Meledandri has enjoyed a personal relationship with Geisel for many years and also worked on other animated Dr. Seuss films. To create the latest Dr. Seuss film, The Lorax, he brought in an all-star cast that includes Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, Ed Helms, Taylor Swift, and Betty White.

Proving Geisel’s idea of common themes, Efron found it easy to relate to his 12-year-old character. It brought nostalgia of first love and his own experiences with Dr. Seuss. He said he remembers hearing the story of The Lorax as a child but not grasping the full weight of the larger themes at work in the writing.

The Once-ler

The environmental messages are hard to miss with this story. DeVito (a well-known environmentalist) seemed the perfect for the role of Lorax who protects the forest. He preaches a message of saving the environment and states his own family takes measures at home to protect it, like using cloth napkins instead of paper towels, no plastic bottles, and reusable cups. He feels that if we don’t do something to save the environment we’ll end up destroying it soon. This environmental message wasn’t lost on the crew of this film; Geisel didn’t want to do anything that harmed the environment just to make or promote a movie.

Swift likes how the movie teaches through art. She feels kids learn about poetry and how their actions affect the world we live in through a cuddly character. The best part is they don’t even realize they’re learning.

A good writer manages to create story lines and find common themes that speak to generations long after the story has been written. Although imaginative, key stories like this one speak to issues that still affect the world today.

With the two stars originally known for their music, people wondered why there were no songs in the film. Co-director Chris Renaud felt this took away from the important message of the film. He didn’t want to feel the pressure to include musical numbers simply because the two stars can sing.

Beyond the film’s important social message, this story in particular holds an important place in Geisel’s heart. She inspired the storyline when her husband faced annoyance in how to convey human’s poor environmental standards in literature.