“I am the Lorax! I speak for the trees! I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”

The Lorax is one of Dr. Seuss’ most beloved stories, a cautionary tale about a businessman who clears a forest of all its Truffula trees despite warnings from the tree-loving Lorax. Once the trees are gone, the Lorax and all of the other creatures leave, even the fish, and the former forest becomes a sad wasteland. 

It’s a story about how greed can lead to the destruction of the environment, and it’s coming to a whole new audience in March 2012 as a 3-D animated feature from Universal Pictures and Illuminated Entertainment.

Co-directed by Chris Renaud, Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, the film’s March 2 release date falls on what would be the 108th birthday of Theodor Geisel, known to the world as ‘Dr. Seuss’.

While The Lorax is the only Dr. Seuss book with overt environmental themes — Geisel avoided writing anything with a clear moral — many of his books are thought to express his views on social and political issues. For example, Horton Hears a Who is an allegory for the American post-war occupation of Japan, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas! has an anti-materialism message.

The New York Times’ Arts Beat asked its readers to weigh in on The Lorax movie in Seussian verse, and this critique from commenter Sean Feit about a character called ‘The Banker’ sums up the timeliness of the environmental message in the story.

I am the banker, I speak for the cash.
I speak for the cash for the cash has no tongue.
And this movie is simply a hash and re-hash
of a song that’s been sung, Oh it makes me so mad!

But banker, you sound so defensive and stuffy,
Your pleasure is bitter, it’s you that sounds huffy.
The Lorax is relevant now as it was
when the forests of Humboldt first rang with the buzz
of the chainsaw and axe that goes thwackity-thwack,
and the streams ran with silt, and the clearcuts were black.
Those redwoods are gone, and may never come back!

But the story’s not over, they’re cutting the trees
in the National Forests as fast as they please,
and the Amazon jungle for grazing and fuels -
A movie like this that can screen in the schools
could start a new wave of green voters and rules
to slow down the destruction - what if it could?

Feit’s impressive rhyming makes a great point. Check out his entire poem at Arts Beat.