Potential Original Script--Lorax
So I was talking to my friend about something and I wanted to post a thought about it. I’ve wanted to talk about for a while–The Lorax.
Ha ha, you wish. Try again.
Yeah, there it is…everyone’s little hypocritical marketing whore. There’s nothing I can say here that hasn’t already been said when it comes to the actual content of the movie and Illumination’s unreasonable treatment of the character. A quality and inspiring story taken and reduced to all the substance of a wet piece of paper, Illumination sold out an environmentalist character to Mazda (and 70 other companies), it shifts blame, etc.
But as some of you may have noticed, there are a lot of signs that this mess of a film is something put together from an entirely darker script that took its story more seriously. There is no pre-production script available to prove this, only the script that ended up as the movie in the end. However, the proof lies in the storyboards and soundtracks. Specifically two songs, Thneedville (Original Demo) and Biggering. But within these two songs are clues to a different story than what we ended up having to suffer.
So let’s start with the wide eyed Zac Efron fuck up himself, Ted Wiggins (almost insultingly named after Dr. Seuss’s birth name, Theodore Giesel).
Probably the biggest hint of a major script change is in the original demo version of the opening song, Thneedville. In it, a huge portion that was cut out of the final version of the song is revealed–specifically a solo given to Ted. In it he gushes over a newly released toy called a Whosit and how its everything he’s ever wanted….aside from all the other extravagant things he has wanted, including but not limited to a sports car and a robotic twin of himself. In the proceeding lyrics he wails over the happy tune about how desperately he wants it, needs it, that ‘all he’s ever wanted is the stuff that he doesn’t have’.
From this its pretty easy to figure out that in this missing pre-script, Ted’s character was not trying to impress Taylor Swift (yeah, I know the character has a name, I just don’t care). In fact, its entirely possible that Taylor Swift’s character might have not been in the original script at all, since her only real role in the final movie was to be the motivator to Ted’s actions. But here it seems Ted’s motivation is his role as the consumer–he WANTS things, he wants it all, he’s not satisfied with anything. I’ve heard rumors that his original goal was that he wanted the tree just so he could HAVE it and be the only one who had it. I have no confirmation on this but it seems about right.
So, to put it simply, the bland as dishwater protagonist of the Illumination movie was meant to serve the purpose of rounding off the Trinity: the defender, the corporation, and the consumer. Within the original book there was very little sympathy, if any at all, for the issues a corporation can have. The television special improved on this, pointing out that there is no answer as simple as ‘just stop it’ because corporation of course employ people and provide products. But something that never has been properly addressed has been the role of the consumer in all of this. What fuels the corporation is the ‘need’ from the consumer and in thus the consumer has a role in the issue of corporations and environmentalism. While the Once-ler may be the dealer of the drug, it is the choice of the consumer whether or not to turn the other way and ignore the consequences behind the product they purchase. In this the consumer is just as responsible for this cycle as the corporation.
This, to me, would’ve justified the creation of the new Lorax movie because it would’ve addressed something that the book and television special had failed to fully address. Yes, its a little weird that the Once-ler has a face despite purposely being kept out of view in the previous iterations but the true failing of the final movie is that it doesn’t truly add anything to the source material and in fact very well may take away from it. Pretty boy Once-ler is just a weird choice, not the true failing of the film.
Speaking of, why don’t we talk about how Once-ler adds into this.
I’m not sure at what point that his song was changed from Biggering to How Bad Can I Be (though you’ll notice many of the lines in the latter are just repurposed from the former), but the fact remains that it is another refugee of the original plot. In this, its noticeable that it fits in better with the original song as well. Biggering and the original Thneedville seem to draw a bit of an interesting parallel between the Once-ler character and the Ted Wiggins character that was inexplicably dropped from the film: the parallel of greed and pride.
The original lines talk about how the Once-ler wants to ‘bigger’ everything. He wants a bigger office, a bigger chair, a bigger staff, a bigger hat, and that all this biggering is ‘triggering more biggering’. Basically, he wants stuff because it’ll make him look better to everyone. More and more stuff. He will never be satisfied no matter how much he has similar to how in the original Thneedville song, Ted only wants everything that he doesn’t have and is jealous that anyone else has anything. This shows that the original intention was not just for the Once-ler to tell Ted about what happened in the past, but to curb Ted from spiraling down like he did. To keep Ted from ‘Biggering’.
As far as the final script is concerned, there is very little that can be said for the ‘expanded’ protagonist other than Ted is so underdeveloped that you’ll probably forget that he’s there. It has been often pointed out that the Illumination film makes the problem too black and white, framing a ‘good’ side and a ‘bad’ side with the good side being the audience proxy therefore failing to teach people that this kind of indulgence could happen to them just as easily as anyone else. Ironically it seems that this major flaw might have been the POINT in the original script, with the consumer (Ted) being cast as the one who has to choose between his lavish behavior and the sacrifices that have to be made.
I’m not really sure what was responsible for these changes, perhaps Illumination Animation not wanting to make people feel bad about themselves, but it definitely happened and it ultimately hurt the film. Ted as a parallel for the Once-ler makes the film more viable because it inevitably presents the question that the book always begged to all of us.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better. It’s not.”