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The Political Dr. Seuss

This documentary traces the evolution of Theodor Seuss Geisel’s (1904-91) art and political philosophy and shows how he deftly combined his delightful, otherworldly creations with moral parables and progressive ideas. Most Americans don’t know, for example, that during World War II he drew editorial cartoons for the left-wing New York newspaper PM, or that he made army propaganda films with Frank Capra. Many readers didn’t know that The Sneetches was inspired by Seuss’s opposition to anti-Semitism, that Horton Hears a Who! was a political statement about democracy and isolationism, or that The Lorax and The Butter Battle Book were parables about the environment and the arms race. Dr. Seuss’s true genius may lie in the fact that all of this was done with such humor and finesse, that few realized he was being political at all. THE POLITICAL DR. SEUSS traces Theodor Geisel’s life from his boyhood in Springfield, Massachusetts through his final days living atop Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, California. The film explores his little-known World War II era cartoons, his educational and propaganda film work-including the "Private Snafu" films he made with Chuck Jones-and Design for Death, his Academy Award-winning documentary on Japan, which is seen here for the first time since its original theatrical release in 1947. In-depth interviews with his widow Audrey, his biographers Judith and Neil Morgan (Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel) and Richard H. Minear (Dr. Seuss Goes to War), his long-time Random House publisher Robert Bernstein and editor Michael Frith, and historian Michael Kazin-not to mention Geisel’s own words through voice-overs-bring the man to life. THE POLITICAL DR. SEUSS is not only an intriguing portrait of Theodor Geisel but also a fascinating lens through which to view the complex political and social history of the 20th century. DVD. 84 minutes.

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