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Man Who Planted Trees, The
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by Elaine Perrone

"A thing of beauty...and a joy forever."
5 stars

The Man Who Planted Trees (L’Homme qui plantait des arbres) is, quite simply, a masterpiece of animated art from the gifted Canadian-German animator Frédéric Back. It is also a joyously uplifting chronicle of the generosity of one man who left his indelible mark upon the earth, and an affirmation of the enormous amount that can be accomplished through the dedication of a single person.

Based upon a short story written by Jean Giono, The Man Who Planted Trees tells of Elzéard Bouffier, a solitary shepherd who, through patience and perseverance over the course of nearly 40 years, single-handedly brings back to life a once-ravaged and desolate region in the French Alps. As told by a hiker (narrator Christopher Plummer in the English language version of the film, Philippe Noiret in the French) who happens into the region and is befriended by Bouffier in 1910, Elzéard is a quiet man who, having lost his wife and son, lives alone tending his flock of sheep and his dog. He also patiently gathers hundreds of thousands of acorns, diligently examining them and each day planting 100 of the best. Of 100,000 planted, he says, 20,000 will survive – and of those, half will be lost to rodents or forces of the elements.

After spending two days with Bouffier and marveling at the man’s patience and dedication to his task, the hiker goes on his way and for the next five years is engaged in the battlefields of World War I. After demobilization, he returns to visit Bouffier, who is now a beekeeper, and is astonished to see an entire forest of the “Oaks of 1910,” which have thrived and scattered their seeds to the wind, bringing water, flowers, and foliage back to the once desiccated region.

Over the years, as hikers, hunters, and foresters arrive in the area, each person marvels at the “natural” forestation around him – the unnamed hiker being the only person who knows that the magnificence is due entirely to the painstaking work of a single man.

As lovely as a painting of Renoir, Picasso, Monet, or Seurat brought to life, the breathtaking visual artistry of this short (30 minutes long) film is complemented beautifully by composer Normand Rogers’ shimmering score and Christopher Plummer’s sublime narration. A feast for the senses, and the spirit, The Man Who Planted Trees is a gift to be treasured many times over by adults and children alike.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11573&reviewer=376
originally posted: 01/24/05 03:00:46
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User Comments

2/12/05 dionwr One of the few perfect films 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  14-Oct-1988 (NR)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  14-Dec-1988 (G)


Directed by
  Frédéric Back

Written by
  Jean Giono

Cast
  Philippe Noiret
  Christopher Plummer



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