Saving Trees: Spreading The Message Through Animation
The movie “The Lorax” is receiving much attention, and not only from environmentalist circles. Some may say it’s just another new way to present an old theme (save the trees/forest, oppose illegal and extensive logging), but the message is still relevant today. Doing something to save our trees is one of the most popular and recognizable act of the green movement. To have participated in a tree planting activity almost serves as an initiation for most green living converts. The popularity and widespread use of the term “treehugger” is just another indication of how much the mission of saving trees has achieved importance and recognition in our society.
Using movies and animation as a medium remains one of the most effective ways to get the message across. And over the years there has been several creative if unusual, cartoons and animations with the trees taking center stage. Here are some of the memorable ones, starting with the Lorax:
The Lorax is a children’s book (presently adapted into a movie) by Dr. Seuss in 1971. It centers on the Onceler’s tale told to a young boy, who is asking about the present polluted world. The Onceler tells him of the beautiful Truffula trees being cut down for a profitable and useful invention of the Onceler. A small creature named the Lorax tried to stop the Onceler and warns of the negative consequences on the environment, but the Onceler continued cutting the trees. Eventually there are no more trees to cut and the world has changed to its present poor condition. At the end however, the Onceler hands the boy a single seed of the Truffula tree to restore the forest.
The Law of Ueki is a Japanese manga and anime series centered on a boy with an unusual power: the ability to turn trash into trees. Ueki, the protagonist, can take any garbage or trash thrown and turn them into creative, powerful weapons (wood clubs, hammers, tree traps, tree shields, etc.) to fight and defeat his opponents. The concept of the anime is unique and refreshing, drawing interest to trees and their conservation (and the problem of garbage and pollution) in an ingenious and creative presentation.
FernGully: The Last Rainforest is a 1992 animated film based on a book of the same name by Diana Young. It is a tale about pollution and forest conservation with fairies, animals, spirits, and human characters. Crysta, a curious fairy, works together with a friendly fruit bat named Batty and a human male named Zak to stop Hexxus, the spirit of destruction from leveling down the rainforest of Ferngully. It has been suggested that the highly successful 2009 film Avatar’s theme and plot elements were loosely based on FernGully.
Origin: Spirits of the Past is 2006 anime film released inJapan and theUnited States. In this futuristic tale the trees have the upper hand, having gained consciousness and intelligence through genetic engineering. A young boy, Agito, manages to anger the tree-like Zruids and in escaping stumbles upon a young girl preserved in a cryogenic sleep for 300 years, Toola. It turns out that she has a device capable of locating a weapon powerful enough to wipe out the world dominating forest and enable humans to gain control of the world once more. In the end, Agito saves both sides and brings them together to live in peace and harmony. The movie’s message seems to imply that a balance between human civilization and nature is the best solution, instead of one gaining dominance over the other.
No doubt there are more animations, movies, and shows around the world that seeks to present the old message of saving trees in a new and creative way. Although not every one might hit the mark or gain public approval, it’s still an effort to spread the word about saving one of our most useful and beautiful natural resource: trees.
Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by xJason.Rogersx on Flickr.
Estel Grace Masangkay is a freelance creative writer who enjoys outdoor trips and activities in natural settings. She is passionate about animal welfare and environment conservation. Follow Me @Em23me.
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