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Headscratchers: The Lorax
  • Where did all of those Truffula Trees from the end of the Movie version come from? Were the seeds lying dormant? Seeds brought in by the returning animals? Where?
    • The seeds most likely came from the tree that was planted with the last seed.
    • But during the end of the movie we watched the tree grow, and what looked like about a month pass by. It was still a tiny sapling by the end of the movie, it wouldn't be big enough to have more seeds.
    • Also, we should keep in mind that this is the Dr. Seuss universe; Truffula trees might grow differently than our trees.
    • It's quite probable the Once-ler lied, given the biological issues with repopulating a species with a single specimen. If so, then he actually has a large number of seeds, but if he just planted them then people wouldn't value them at all, and would just let O'Hare cut them down again.
      • Yeah, it was already sprouting tufts by the time they planted it, and all that it'd gotten was a bit of water less than an hour before.
      • But then it begs another question: if Truffula trees could grow so quickly, why didn't Oncler plant more as he was cutting them down? That way, the animals would've been able to stay and he would've been able to keep making Thneeds.
      • He's a Corrupt Corporate Executive (at least for one song). He could have found a better way to harvest the tufts without chopping the trees down too but he didn't due to greed. By the time he realized what he'd done, the entire forest was gone, and it was a huge forest, so it'd take a while to replenish.
      • But if the trees grow that quickly, wouldn't it have regrown before he could chop them all down?
      • The film is kind of ambiguous about the amount of time that passes. The first Truffula in the town is shown growing, and that's used as a transition to a different Truffula out near the Once-ler's home. Either way, the film's Truffula grow a lot faster than the original Truffula (which took around thirty years to completely mature).
  • Why do they have to plant the seed in the middle of town (besides for dramatic tension)? The ground under the plastic wouldn't be any better than what was outside and they could have nurtured the plant without O'Hare potentially interfering, which would have sped up the forest's rejuvination and given them a more compelling argument for the trees.
    • Maybe because the air outside of Thneedville was still horribly polluted. Second, they mentioned that they wanted the tree to grow where everyone could see it, presumably so people could appreciate it. Even if they were able to plant the tree outside, O'Hare could've not only destroyed it, but he could do it without other people knowing. If people don't know the tree exists and that the tree can create oxygen, he could've gotten rid of it without anyone knowing or caring.
    • Multiple studies in New York's Central Park show that the interior of a city is much better for growing trees than the countryside both due to the elevated CO 2 levels and the urban heat-island effect. This is excluding the fact that wild trees have a ludicrously low survival rate (as low as 5%) Really, it's best to grow the last of an endangered species in a protected, park environment.
    • I thought it was to prevent O'Hare from interfering. He may not have many cameras outside the city, but it's not hard to spot a lone tree. If he plants it in the middle of the city, everyone will see it, and O'Hare won't be able to cut it down unless everyone lets him.
  • Why would anyone live in Thneedville? There's obviously other, less polluted locations in the world (see Artistic License-Geography on the main page), so why would the ancestors of the current generation choose to live in the middle of a desolate wasteland?
    • And for that matter, how did the Once-ler survive for so long outside of the city? He has to have been there a while, since he was still clean-shaven when the Lorax left and he has a big beard by the present. Nobody ever leaves Thneedville and it appears the Once-ler never leaves his house. Also, there's almost nothing out there for him to eat or drink and the air is even worse than the air inside of the city.
      • Since the Once-ler was designing Thneedville just before the last tree fell, it's likely that it was supposed to be a home for his factory's workers (like how Hershey, PA started). Then the factory went bust, and this area is so remote that going anywhere was impractical, so O'Hare convinced them to finish Thneedville because he would bring new jobs at the air factory.
      • This is... this is a fabulous explanation. Thank you!
      • One can further guess that, given that the thneed was a boom-and-bust product, the town's name is a relic of its original purpose.
  • So, regarding the O'Hare guy... He has cameras all over the city, but couldn't he have gotten in trouble for that? He's a powerful man, but unless he's some sort of government dictator, how would he be able to enforce rules like preventing people from leaving town? Is it ever explained?
    • He was the Mayor as well as the richest man. And people can't complain if they don't know, and Ted was the first one to ever leave town in a long, long time.
      • But even that begs the question as to WHY nobody has left Thneedville and WHY no one ever tried to figure out why the place was a complete wasteland.
      • Why would they?
      • Why was the big button, which gained access to the outside world and labeled 'Authorized Personal Only', unlocked???
      • Because it didn't need to be: everyone was happy to stay within the walls anyways and probably didn't even glance a second time at the boring tall grey steel when they had all the bright colourful plastic lights in the city.

  • What's so bad about O'Hare selling air? For all we know, there is no natural source of clean air in Thneedville - The only Truffula seed we know exists is in the hands of the Once-ler, who keeps it hidden and doesn't plant it, so artificial air should logically be the only way to go. It's suggested to the audience that O'Hare is selling his air at an unfair price and in an environmentally unsound way, but there is no evidence for this in the film. We see pollution in and around Thneedville, but how do we know that isn't leftover runoff from the time the Once-ler cut down all the trees? In fact, how do we know that O'Hare has anything to do with the pollution in Thneedville? Clueless Aesop much?
    • The premise seems to be that he wants the land to remain in the state the Once-ler left it, and he may be keeping it that way so the air is still profitable.
    • There is a scene in the movie, where the two guys are pitching the "air-bottle" idea to him and they start making head way with O'Hare after pointing out that they would have build a new factory to make the bottles and a new factory would mean more pollution which generates more need for O'Hare's air. So it definitely comes across as O'Hare is not only profiting, but is encouraging further pollution to make money.
  • Obviously people in Thneedville know about real, living trees. Audrey knew a lot about them, Ted's mom seems to know they once existed, and Ted's grandmother is even old enough to remember them being around. So why does O'Hare take it as a threat just because one more kid learns about them? Ted expresses interest in trees but until he gets the seed, O'Hare has no way of knowing that Ted intends to get a real, living tree and be a threat to his business.
    • Ted was treated as a threat because he was the first one to actually leave the city in search for the seeds, and refused to back down after the thinly-veiled threats.
      • But O'Hare didn't know that Ted was actively looking for a tree, just that he was trying to find out where they were. And for all O'Hare knew, there weren't any seeds left anyway.
      • He was paranoid. What if he didn't know everything and there were seeds left? And no normal person spares real trees a second thought: Ted was being extremely suspicious and probably harboured huge devious plans to throw O'Hare's business over.
      • And it's left unclear, but O' Hare had to have known whom Ted was seeing. The Once-ler was the town founder and a powerful businessman back in the day. And he's still lurking out there, obviously not happy about the situation and having a vested interest in bringing trees back. Ted may not have been the one O'Hare was afraid of.
  • The hypocrisy- the forest animals treat the Once-ler cutting down one tree as if he's killed the most important person in the world, but trees die of natural causes or even old age all the time- that's why there are seeds, so there can be new generations to replace the old. Also, the fish at least are confirmed to eat other animals (fireflies) but nobody mourns the eaten fireflies.
    • There's a huge difference between a tree dying of natural causes and a tree being cut down. Once-ler cutting down that tree served no purpose other then to make harvesting the tufts a little easier. That's it. No other reason to cut down the tree. As for the fish, they need to eat the fireflies, and that's why they eat them. It isn't laziness.
    • Also, it's pretty darn clear that no one from the nearby village comes into the Truffula forest, especially not that far in, as the animals had no idea what he was. They've never seen a tree being cut down, and ran in surprised fright from the noise. It wasn't until the Lorax came did they actually seem to mourn for the trees, and even then, it could be just because the Lorax himself was mourning for the trees.
    • Though I have to say... There's not much hypocricy from the other characters in the story, but from the audience I've noticed... People really agree with the once-ler's condemnation, when we are most likely no better, and there are worse things happening in the world, bigger deforestation that people all over the world benefit from and don't think twice about. In their world, this was a really big deal and he deserved his fate, but compared to OUR world, his mistakes were merely poor business decisions.

  • The entire moral is confusing to me:
    • The Lorax leaves the Once-ler, his family leaves him and he ends up so depressed he never leaves his house anymore. If the goal of the movie was to promote environmentalism, the Once-ler should have solved his own problem, but no: he waits for someone with no emotional trauma to come along and fix what he broke. So... we're supposed to be depressed about our misdeeds and hope that the next generation can do something better about it? What kind of a moral is that?
      • The moral isn't reduced, it's a carry over from the original book. "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." Unless the next generation cares, then they'll just make the same mistakes the previous generation made. It's also possible that the Once-ler thought a single Truffula tree wouldn't survive all alone out in a polluted land. Thneedville is also polluted, but it's still inhabitable.
    • Not to mention the character plots... Ted, who had a very nice life for himself, a kind mother and grandmother, a girl who obviously already liked him, etc. gets to be the hero. Why? What lesson does he learn? The Once-ler on the other hand is a very sad character who only gets sadder. It would have made sense to have him fix everything, since he was the one who needed the happy ending to finish his character arc. He goes from sad to sadder, and then he gets "redeemed" by someone who wasn't even there for him? What's up with that? During the entire movie he's thrown around like a ragdoll, then they just shuffle his character away so that Ted has a chance to shine.
      • The Once-ler's redemption doesn't come from Ted's actions or from the Lorax's forgiveness, it comes from him realizing he's made a horrible mistake in destroying the first forest, and from taking care of the second forest. The Lorax returning and renewing their friendship was his happy ending. Ted was the audience surrogate; he learned the lesson every one else learned, which was that the world you live in isn't perfect, and that you need to acknowledge and work to change that. It seems that you've never read the original book or seen the animated adaptation; in them, no one fixes anything, and it ends with the Once-ler simply giving an anonymous kid a seed and telling him the Unless message. They had to have Ted actively work to change things, because otherwise they would be deviating too heavily from the source material.
    • No, I've seen both the 1971 short and read the book. Don't patronize me, come on, now. Those two work because the once-ler acts only on greed. He's not sympathetic, and he represents corporations, not humanity/new generations like Ted does. The Once-ler, in the book/short feels shame about his decisions, but the story's not about his shame. It doesn't matter if he cares or not. What matters is that Ted cares. In the new movie, however, the story is half about the once-ler. They spend a lot of time illustrating what kind of character he is and the intent behind his actions, but he doesn't finish his character arc. He's set up as sympathetic, then doesn't get a very happy ending. In the book/short, the once-ler doesn't need a happy ending, it's not important. I'm analyzing the characters personally, not the plot as a whole. For the plot, yeah, it all works out, but when you take a step inward and look at the characters, themselves, as people the story doesn't really hold them up very well. If the movie wanted to focus on the plot and the symbolism, that's what it should have done, not make the Once-ler have a fruedian excuse for what he does, because that's irrelevant. Hope this makes sense.
      • I find this Tumblr post summarizes everything quite neatly: http://quietlyinvisible.tumblr.com/post/19423322619/my-own-view
      • Ted is us. He is the common person. Most people donít have horrible home lives, we actually have pretty good ones. Our troubles pale in comparison to Once-lerís if we really think about it. That is why Ted is the one to plant the seed- because itís us that needs to plant those seeds.
Yes, Once-ler wants his happy ending; but letís face it. He screwed up big time. Not all of those problems are his families. His family helped with a lot of them- but when he first came to the Truffula forest, he was the one to chop down that tree for no reason other then to harvest the Tuffts. In other words: Pure laziness. That was what summoned the Lorax in the first place really; someone harming the forest when they didnít have too.
Itís also why the Lorax said he wasnít Once-lerís friend. The Lorax is far too honest for that sort of stuff- heís the forest guardian, and he wasnít there to be Once-lerís friend, he was there to protect the forest. And whoís to say that The Lorax did recognize the Once-ler needed support and family? Heís the only Lorax, and itís obvious that he normally hangs out with forest animals. He might not even really know what a family is.
But the point is, Once-ler screwed up and made a bunch of bad decisions. He affected a lot of people, not just himself. An entire eco-system was destroyed and all of the animals within displaced. The Lorax himself stated that he couldnít make everything magically better. So he leaves. Once-lerís family leaves because they didnít love him in the first place. The animals leave because thereís no more food.
Really, heís actually a Villain. A woobie villain, but still a villain. We realize he probably didnít mean to, but he still did it. He still cut down the trees, still polluted the air. He made his decisions, and he reaped the consequences of them.
Ted on the other hand didnít have to do anything at all. He couldíve decided that trees werenít important, that he could find some other, easier way to impress Audrey. Because by the second day when youíre being threatened with bodily harm, one usually backs off. He doesnít. There are a million reasons why he shouldíve backed away from the trees- he could have been lazy and decided the effort wasnít worth it. He couldíve been like the Once-ler and Oíhare and be greedy. He couldíve tried to sell that last seed, he couldíve kept it for himself.
There are a million things he couldíve done, but ultimately he chose the right one- Planting the Seed.
He didnít have to. Just like we donít have too help out with the environment, or any cause at all. Weíre all safe. Why should we be the ones? Why canít just the person who created the whole mess clean it up?
Because thatís just one person, and we, the common people, the Audreyís and Tedís need to help. For I doubt that Once-ler just stood by and let everyone else clean up once the ball started rolling. He would have joined them, he could clean it up if it wasnít himself. Itís easier to do something with lots of people then by yourself after all.
Ted mightíve had his happy ending handed to him on a silver platter, but Once-ler worked hard for his own, both good and bad.

  • Where the heck is the rest of civilization? Or the rest of nature, for that matter? The once-ler cut down a single forest, and now there's one city left on earth and they have to pay for air? Are they on some kind of island, cut off from the rest of the world?
    • Isolation. Practically every single person is completely sold on how perfect Thneedville is, and why would you want to leave your perfect home? O-Hare probably dissuades any one who shows any interest in what's beyond the wall, like how he tried to threaten Ted into staying inside.
      • That may be why the people in Thneedville don't know/care about the outside world, but what about how the outside world knows about Thneedville? There's clearly evidence of a world outside of the Truffula valley, yet nobody in the outside world questions why there's a single town in the middle of a dead wasteland completely enclosed in a giant metal dome? Do people ever move to Thneedville? Do the Thneedvillians have friends or family outside of the town? Why haven't any outside authorities stepped in to arrest O'Hare for being a polluting dictator?
  • The Onceler tells the Lorax after his Villain Song that he hasn't broken a single law. Yet in the song, it says "the lawyers are denying." Even if there's no Environmental Protection Agency or enviromental regulations, he created a fake charity during the song, which is illegal fraud.
    • Yep. The Once-ler's song is in part about how he doesn't believe he's evil, and his "I'm not breaking any laws!" claim is part of his self delusion.
    • Furthermore, the "Lorax Approved" scene is False advertising and Unlawful represention. Either the laws in that world are much more lax, or the Onceler leveraged his wealth to avoid conviction, and considers this the same as not breaking any laws.
  • I'm just gonna poke a couple holes in Thneedville itself.
    • Where does that sunshine-y sky end or begin? Is it a real and controlled environment? Is it just one big virtual sky on hundreds of screens (like Planet Jackers, haha)?
    • Why the distance from the Once-ler's house? Realistic town growth assumes his factory would be smack-dab in the middle of civilization, like a railroad or port-town. And if it's so far away, how did they keep the 'thneed' part of the town name? Did O'Hare just round up and shut off the town after a number of years?
      • I think maybe they renamed the previous town Thneedville. The Once-ler wasn't building a new town, but improving on an old one.
  • During the part where Once-ler's bed is floating down the river with a young bar-ba-loot stuck on for the ride, why didn't one of the swans just fly over and airlift the bar-ba-loot to safety?
  • I know it's ridiculously dark, and for this obvious reason it would NEVER come up in a kid's movie of all things... But I have to wonder... If onceler was so shame-ridden and filled with self-hate that he planned to spend the rest of his life locked away... why didn't he just, y'know...pull the plug..?
    • He was waiting for someone who cared a whole awful lot, or course!
    • A couple of fanfics have speculated that part of the Lorax's curse was leaving him unable to die.
      • That would explain how he could survive so long in the wasteland with no apparent source of food, water or clean air.
      • It also might mean that he gets to spend eternity with the Lorax. Y'know, for the fangirls...
    • He felt he needed to safeguard the last seed until he could find someone responsible to entrust it to.
  • Maybe it was explained in the story, and I just forgot, but why didn't the Once-ler just plant the seed himself all those years? It's not like the ground around him was completely unable to grow the trees, as we see at the end.
    • My guess is that he thought he would find some way to screw it up again.
      • I can understand Once-Ler from the book possibly cutting it down as soon as it grew, but movie Once-Ler?
      • Even if he wasn't going to cut it down, he might have been worried he would screw up some other way - maybe he sees himself as a Walking Wasteland and thinks that after all he's done to nature, plants wouldn't grow for him. Also, maybe it took that many years for the pollutants in the ground to clear up enough for the soil to be fertile again. Plus O'Hare could have started attacking his trees when he figured out what Once-ler was doing, and he wouldn't have been able to fight him all by himself. If Ted and the whole town are dedicated to watching after the seedling there's less chance of sabotage.
  • Why did the Once-ler cut down every single tree without, y'know, planting a few more? Since his business relies on the continued presence of the trees, he could have harvested some seeds and planted new ones as each tree was cut down. And maybe made half of the forest off-limits/protected. That way, he could have kept his promise to the Lorax (sorta), and he would have more raw materials to make more Thneeds.
    • Most likely he got too swept up in his new-found wealth to think about preserving any of the forest, and too impatient to wait for new trees to grow.
    • This pretty much reflects what happened many places that provided timber in the early 1900s. Earning them the nickname "Stumptown".
  • The big showdown is in the square "In the middle of town", but Ted hijacks a bulldozer and knocks down the Thneedville wall which is right nearby. I guess "middle of town" is just an expression in that the "middle" would be so close to the edge.
    • Yeah, they probably meant "middle of the town" in that that's where everyone gathered, the busiest part of town.
  • How did the tree-chopping machines get to the trees on the hills by the waterfall?
  • Why is Ted inspired to change the way things are by the Onceler's story? The actual environmental destruction is glossed over in favor of a story about the Onceler betraying his best friend. It's mentioned, albeit briefly, that the animals had to leave the valley, but since Ted is living in the rather nice Thneedville, there's no real reason for him to care about that. Why does he suddenly want to bring back free air?
    • Well, wouldn't you be peeved about having to pay for something you could get for free? But in all seriousness, I believe that's Ted motivation to plant the seed comes from three different factors by the end of the film. 1) He still wants Audrey to get the tree, though arguably it's the least important one by the end of the movie. 2) He realizes that Thneedville is not the utopia the citizens believe it to be, and wants to stop O'Hare from taking advantage of their situation and all but imprisoning them inside the walls and 3) He has this weird sort-of-not-quite-friend-but-maybe relationship with Once-ler, and wants to help him to repent by planting the seed for him.
      • The lesson in the Once-ler justifying destruction isn't directly related to what Ted needs to avoid doing: justifying doing nothing. The Once-ler's story still gets across that Things Should Be Better, which is what Ted needs to know.
    • In regards to the segment glossed over; it's highly unlikely Ted actually heard that part of the Once-ler's story in the form of a musical number. (Though that would be cool and not entirely out of character.) So assuming the Disney Acid Sequence was a distilled synopsis for our benefit, maybe the Once-ler really did articulate that part of the story.
  • This one has been bugging me since I watched the film. How exactly does Audrey know about photosynthesis? The whole town believes that they have to buy air (except O'Hare, but he seems smart enough only to capitalize on the situation) and trees were extinct by the time Audrey was born. So how does she even know that trees create oxygen, let alone that it's called "Photosynthesis"?
    • Audrey tells Ted that she read about trees in a book at the beginning of the movie, even painting them on the back wall of her house. She probably learned about Photosynthesis from that book.
    • What makes her assertion really strange is that Photosynthesis DOESN'T create oxygen, it just creates energy for the plant. The word she was looking for was respiration. But points for knowing something fairly close.
  • Why doesn't anyone in Thneedville know about the state of the terrain outside of the city? O'Hare appears to be a teenager at the end of the Once-ler's story. Thneedville wasn't populated at the end of the story, though, so everyone who lives in Thneedville must be new arrivals, aside from the children. Why, then, does everyone seem to be shocked at how things look like outside of the walls?
    • It depends on how long they've been in there, and how bad it was initially. Plus, as discussed earlier in the film, O'Hare is actively making the air worse so that more people desire to buy his air.
  • Why don't more people know about trees and how they produce oxygen for free? Shouldn't there be lots of old people around like Granny Norma who'd remember the trees, especially since the movie takes place roughly 30-50 years in the future (implied that Once-ler's story takes place during our present), when healthcare would be better and people would live to be older. And even if the toxic water and air would keep people's lifespan around 80-100, there still would have to people from their 60's to their 90's who'd have some distant memory about trees and their purpose.
    • Even if they did remember, O'Hare and his company seem to have a pretty good PR team plus a lot more money behind them, so they probably could have just distracted the general populous and made them ignore the old people.
  • This is more about the fans than the actual movie. Did I miss some sort of grand fandom decree that stated, "Lo and behold, the Once-ler shall henceforth be shipped with every fictional character that ever walked the earth"? Why him?
    • Probably stems from just how Adorkable the guy is.
      • It's the mustache.
    • Because he's cute but the only people in his canon story he could be shipped with are a small furry orange nature spirit and...himself.
  • So, Mr O'Hare. The townspeople effectively killed him. Even if he didn't crash and die outside the city...it's a barren fucking wasteland. He'd starve to death.
    • (Maybe he becomes a sort of Once-ler 2.0?) Assuming cartoon physics keep him from dying in the crash, the townspeople are fixing up the wasteland, which is an unspecified level of remote and, other theories on this page aside, can apparently support an individual. Also, despite losing his power and status in Thneedville, nothing actually indicates that O'Hare isn't still situated in terms of wealth.
  • I don't know many 3 year olds that can string together a sentence as well as Marie can.
  • I don't understand how Ted could get back to Thneedville from the Onceler's house if there's a huge gorge in the way. He might just go around it, but we have no idea how big the gorge is.
    • I'd assume the same way he got past it before: by going through it. The real question is, how'd he get back into town after the incredibly complicated route he used when O'Hare welded the control pad shut?
  • Given that thneeds are made from truffula tufts, meaning leaves, and the Once-ler creates the first one by knitting, why is the factory (which should be just a vast collection of knitting machines) so polluting?
    • Possibly he burned the Truffula wood as fuel, which would produce particulate smoke, ash and tar. He obviously would have consumed a LARGE amount, as several million trees were cut down over several years.
    • There may likely have also been chemical treatments for preservative purposes, to clean out bugs and sanitize, etc.
    • Top Hats were made by curing beaver pelts with mercury. You probably don't want to know what went into those Thneeds.
  • What would the Once-ler want with some pocket change and an old snail?
  • What happened to all the Once-ler's money? He went from multimillionaire to a recluse living in a ramshackle piece of his factory, wouldn't he have had enough money left to at least provide a decent standard of living for himself?
    • Maybe he had already put most of his money back into the company, so when it went so did most of his wealth.
    • Or he did have the money but since he realized what that money had cost him he chose to go back to living like a hermit as penance.
  • People have complained about the blame getting taken away from the Once-ler and put on his family, but aside from one scene, the whole movie behaves as though itís his fault and his fault alone, with him saying ďItís because of meĒ, ďEverything Iíve doneĒ, ďWhat Iím doingĒ, and ďNothing is going to stop meĒ. And why was he the only one to get punished if they didnít want it to be his fault? Was there originally meant to be a scene where he firmly crosses the Moral Event Horizon?
The Long EarthHeadscratchers/LiteratureLord of the Flies
The Lego MovieHeadscratchers/FilmMadagascar

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