The Magic of ‘Green’ Animation Films

By Fidelis E. Satriastanti on 03:58 pm Jul 18, 2012
Category Blogs, Globe Beat

A moviel still from 'The Lorax'

I like to watch movies, especially animations and cartoons. A friend of mine, however, always criticizes that cartoons are too light for adults. Yet, based on personal observation, I find that cartoons are an effective way to push a “green” agenda. In fact, the subliminal messages in animation films often stand into a paradoxical position: either to save the environment or to destroy it.

One of my favorite cartoons is “The Lorax,” an animated film recently released by Universal Pictures. “The Lorax,” based on one of Dr. Seuss’ children books published in 1972, tells a story about an orange creature posed as a guardian for trufulla trees who tries to defend them against the greedy Once-ler. The once vivid-and-colorful trufulla forests immediately turns into a barren land, leaving a nearby neighborhood, Thneed Ville, trapped in a huge dome where its people have to buy clean air.

I was struck upon reading the film’s synopsis before going to see it in the cinema. And once I saw it, I would highly recommend “The Lorax” under a “must-see” for everybody. I even updated my Facebook and Twitter’s statuses with a line from the movie: “I am The Lorax, I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.”

Once the status updates went up, I have people responded to it – mostly ones working in the conservation area. The messages brought up by “The Lorax” are relevant to current situation more than ever. It’s quite an irony how environmental issues, especially ones related to forestry, are still quite “concerning.”

The book on which the film was based on itself was considered not suitable for kids by critics because it’s too gloomy. Four decades on and the world is still not doing OK.

Take Jakarta, for example, on how bad the condition is. The regulation strictly says that 30 percent of the total area should be green areas, but in reality, it’s impossible to implement as the city only has less than ten percent green spaces. It’s a gloom reality, but not entirely doomed (yet).

“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” and “Ice Age 4: Continental Drift,” now showing in local cinemas, are another type of films that bear preserving the environment as their main messages. Both movies have similar plots: a group of animal best friends striving to survive, one from mother nature and the other a crazy animal hunter.

Apart from a flaw in the film – how could a saber-toothed cat and an African lion, both are meat-eaters, be friends? – the survival of the animals themselves are a true reflection of our current environmental problem. These animals’ existences indicate the level of the environment; if their habitat is ruined, then the environment is destroyed.

I am not completely oblivious that these are just blockbuster animation films targeted for kids during school holidays, yet for adults, these could pose an easy message on environmental issues.

The characters in “Madagascar 3″ are so adorable, especially King Julien XIII – the self-proclaimed Lord of the Lemurs – which, the species, is recently named as the world’s most endangered primate group on earth by the International Union for Conservation (IUCN).

So, how do cartoons save or destroy the environment? If they are picturing that trees are a vital part of human’s existence, then they should not be cut down for the wrong reasons.

And if the animals portrayed in the cartoons are just too cute to be true, then to do not keep the real ones as pets: they belong in the wild. If there are less demands for these cute animals, it might reduce illegal endangered animals hunt and trade.