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A person's a person, no matter how small. The amazing Dr. Seuss

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jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 10:21 PM
Original message
A person's a person, no matter how small. The amazing Dr. Seuss
Just saw "Horton Hears a Who." It's a mashup of Dr. Seuss's original story and typical Hollywood inanity by grown-ups with no idea of how sophisticated a child's sense of humor can be. Lots of silly sight gags, lots of idiotic jokes and just a touch of gross-out humor--not too bad, though. The worst parts are when the writers have to craft a verse or two to tie the Seuss story to what the writers and director have done to stretch the short book into a long movie. It's as grating as substituting a cigar box with rubber bands for a violin in an orchestral work.

Overall, not a bad movie for kids--my nine year old loved it--but not really the kind of film a grownup or even teenager will want to watch by themselves. Not Pixar or Ghibli, in other words.

Two things really impressed me, though. First, the brilliant poetic skills of Dr. Seuss really shines. You can feel the difference when the film switches from his work to the adaptation. In some ways, his brilliance is made more obvious by the failed attempts to mimic him, since you couldn't put finger on exactly why they fail, but you can clearly tell they do.

Second, the absolute brilliance of Dr. Seuss's work goes beyond the poetry. I don't know his politics, or if he even had strong political views, but there is a universality to his work that transcends liberal/conservative debate. Horton defends his tiny world from people who refuse to believe it exists, and defends it from those who don't really care whether it exists, who only want to destroy it because it is in their way. I at first got my timetable wrong, and wondered if were commenting on our imperialism during Viet Nam, by pointing out the arrogance of a large society wanting to destroy a small society because the small society challenged its sense of normality. But Geisel wrote the story in 1954, during the McCarthy/Army hearings, so Viet Nam wasn't an issue. There were overtones of condemnation of Hitler, of the Soviets, and of our actions in Korea. I don't know if Theodor Geisel was for or against our actions in Korea, but the message of the story was so much grander--it was against all cultures, all societies that ignored others, that stepped on others simply because they were smaller and odd.

A person's a person, no matter how small. The first time Horton says this in the film, even though the film had been barely watchable up to that point for me, I choked up. It had nothing to do with the movie, it was all in Dr. Seuss's line, all in the context of his work. Of course, Dr. Seuss wrote for children. No doubt he was reminding kids that they were significant, and reminding parents to treat them that way. But his words were more universal, and there's no question he understood that.

For those who don't remember the story, Whoville has to convince Horton's world that they exist, and so they have to be loud enough for the other world to hear them. They can't make enough noise until, finally, one last voice, that of the smallest, most insignificant child in Whoville finally adds his tiny voice to the fray. His voice makes the difference, and the world is saved.

Brilliant stuff. How inspiring to a small child. How poignant a condemnation of Joseph McCarthy. How inspirational to those of us who forget we can make a difference. How perfect as a justification for Democratic Underground, for a thousand sites on the web. One voice, the final, weakest voice, may be the one to save us all. Makes me less eager to silence all the noisemakers in GDP, if nothing else.

Even the silly Hollywoood slapstick piece couldn't weaken his message.

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Arugula Latte Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 10:23 PM
Response to Original message
1. I always thought he was liberal.
For example, "The Lorax" is an early conservation work. Lots of his books have an anti-war subtext.
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Archae Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 10:34 PM
Response to Original message
2. Seuss did have a bad side...
It showed up mostly during WW2.

He caricatured "the Japs" and "the Krauts" rather savagely, drawing them as monkeys and worse.

http://orpheus.ucsd.edu/speccoll/dspolitic/
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OmahaBlueDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 10:57 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. I think you have to put that in the context of the times
Have you ever seen Disney & /or Warner Bros. cartoons from WWII?
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hippywife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-16-08 09:29 PM
Response to Reply #3
11. But don't you think there is no
acceptable context or time for dehumanization of others? People seem never to change with regards to their fears and negative characterization of people different from themselves. :hi:
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jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-16-08 01:17 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. Wouldn't be the first artist to evolve, I guess. nt
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alphafemale Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-16-08 05:37 AM
Response to Original message
5. "A person's a person no matter how small" You know that pro-lifers have jumped all over that too.
I don't know his intent with the story. But it is touching none the less.

Most of his stories are.

My favorite is probably "The Lorax" though with that whispered "...unless"
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jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-16-08 10:06 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Yeah, his widow got angry at them for it.
She says she hates it when people use her husband's work in ways he didn't mean it.
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femmocrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-16-08 02:37 PM
Response to Original message
7. I am going to see it on Tuesday with an entire elementary school.
We are taking the entire school (around 450 students) to the local theater to see it. I think it will be a lot of fun and the kids will love a day away from school.

Does the music detract from the story? I thought it seemed kind of annoying in the trailers I have seen.

:hi: Nice to see you again, jobycom. (Seems like it's been awhile?)
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jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-16-08 08:58 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. I didn't notice the music
There were long stretches of added story that detracted from the story. Way too much slapstick. The worst parts were where the writers or director were trying to entertain the parents. The segments were too dumb for the parents, while being over the heads of the kids. There was a whole section of Horton as a Japanese anime samuri character.

I guess I've been spoiled by Pixar. It really is possible to make a film that kids love that can also appeal to adults, and Dr. Seuss would seem prime material for that. And if the filmmakers didn't want to go that route, they could have done something more sophisticated for kids, like a lot of the Winnie the Pooh films.

Still, my daughter liked it, and there was just enough of the Seuss story and writing left that by the end I got something out of it, even though for long parts of it I didn't like it. Only Dr. Seuss saved this film. When they are off book, only a kid could love it, and it wasn't sophisticated enough for a parent to be happy their kid did love it.

And I'm the guy who used to have a Horton avatar, so I really wanted to love it.
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tigereye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-16-08 09:07 PM
Response to Original message
9. so, they didn't (couldn't) ruin it?
Brian Grazer has inspired my ire with his terrible rehashes of Dr. Suess... I think he should be slapped upside the head.


This book was always my mom's fave to read to us when we were kids. I hate when they mess em up with a lot of tacky jokes.... and his books about various warring factions are always funny, and wonderfully insightful!


(yes, I know I'm an old whiner) :P
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jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-16-08 09:22 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. They tried really hard to.
Or at least I thought so. RottenTomatoes has an 80+ rating for the film.

Just what you'd fear. Tacky, poor filmmaking. The animation is terrific, though not magical.

I really hated it for most of the film, but they'd work the real Seuss back into the story just enough to save it.

And Horton was always my favorite. My kids gave me a stuffed Horton years ago because of how much I like his two stories. I embarrassed myself once reading "Horton Hatches an Egg" and choking up visibly on "I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful, one hundred percent." I used to have a Horton avatar around here. It vanished, maybe because I'm not a donor anymore? Not sure how that works.
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tigereye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-16-08 10:37 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. my mom still always says, "are you safe, are you sound, are you whole,
are you well?"


:)
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petronius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-16-08 10:34 PM
Response to Original message
12. True, but small people are worth less, right? Wasn't that Seuss' point?
:shrug:


( :silly:)
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jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-16-08 10:53 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. If so, I missed it.
Several of his stories seemed to say exactly the opposite.
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