Screening Nature in Walt Disney's Bambi (1942) and Dr. Seuss's The Lorax (1972): An Ecocritical Approach to Enviro-toons
Marwa Essam Eldin Fahmi

The current study is an attempt to fill in a gap in Ecocriticism which until recently has focused on literature defined as Nature Writing; poetry, fiction and drama. Yet, with the move toward ecocritical Film Studies, there is a place for work on animated feature films. The premise of the study is the ethical and environmental implications as exemplified in the two selected enviro-toons: Disney's Bambi (1942) and Dr. Seusss's The Lorax (1972). The depiction of the wilderness and the representation of nonhuman animals provide a rich context to investigate ideology and power to explore oppressive practices of contemporary society. The selected enviro-toons strongly articulate ecological crisis – hunting, species loss, pollution, deforestation and overproduction. Consumption is driven by the industrial capitalism's profit motive and the "jobs –jobs –jobs" rhetoric adopted by the industrialist Once-ler in The Lorax. On the other hand, Bambi, the Prince of the Forest, stands for the environment as an ecological sublime – that is – the Wilderness trope is worthy of awe and wonder. The distinct language of animation is evidently defined by multiple characteristics. Animation is a culturally determined vocabulary, interpreted and applied differently by individual animators, hence, all animation inevitably carry some form of authorial signature or/and "studio style". Herein lies the choice of the two enviro-toons; Disney's 'realist' style fits into orthodox animation while that of Dr. Suess is 'abstract' and 'experimental'. Therefore, the focus is on the poetics of enviro-toons, that is, not only what cartoons show but how they show ecocritical sensibility and how it affects the way of 'seeing' and understanding the human/nonhuman world.

Full Text: PDF      DOI: 10.15640/ijll.v6n1a11