The Man Who Planted Trees
The Man Who Planted Trees tells the story of a solitary sheperd who patiently plants and nurtures a forest of thousands of trees, single-handedly transforming his arid surroundings into a thriving oasis. Undeterred by two World Wars, and without any thought of personal reward, the sheperd tirelessly sows his seeds and acorns with the greatest care. As if by magic, a landscape that seemed condemned grows green again. A film of great beauty and hope, this story is a remarkable parable for all ages and an inspiring testament to the power of one person.
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I saw the animated film once many years ago, and I was so taken by the characters and the story itself that I searched for years to find the book or a recording of it in some form. Thankfully it is now available on DVD for a new generation to admire.
I would recommend this inspiring animation to anyone of any age. It would make a great gift to someone you really care about, because the recipient will never forget who it was that turned them on to "The Man Who Planted Trees."
But beyond the presentation, these films (particularly The Man Who Planted Trees, Illusion? and The Mighty River) get to the heart of environmentalism and stewardship. They are not shrill or glib, not reactive or stalely didactic -- these films are awash with animism and life, each using this unique medium to exhalt the beauty of creation, and to exemplify the folly of excess. Back's impressionistic style flows like a river itself, rolling and moving and churning, urging us to face the simple truths of our abuses, and to consider the possibility of a more harmonious course.
I'll stop there, because I'm afraid I'm making Back's work sound contrived. Walt Disney once said that a true animated film could not be put into words, and he was right. I can only urge you to see these truly remarkable films, and to share them with the youngest generations.
It explores the value of turning grief into do-able positive action-- the value of deep introspection and a simple life to change not only one's viewpoint, but the world. In daily small things that seem insignificant at the time, or not worth the trouble, one person can build up a 'forest' that others can see, touch, enjoy, and draw strength from.
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