Once in a while I’ll add something random to my Netflix queue. A B-rated horror movie…some crazy British TV show…workout videos I can watch while I snack on popcorn and chocolate chips…
I don’t really know what I was thinking when I added The Man Who Planted Trees into my DVD queue. Perhaps I was interested by the plot (I’m a sucker for environmental movies), or maybe the colorful cover caught my eye…whatever the reason was, I thank my lucky stars that it ended up on my list.
The Man Who Planted Trees is a beautifully illustrated short film (it’s only 30 minutes) about a man with a mission to make a change.
The story is narrated by a young man who is taking a hike through Provence, France, seeming to marvel at the unspoiled wilderness around him. He eventually comes upon a barren valley, void of water and plant life. As a result, our narrator begins a never-ending quest for water, until he stumbles upon a shepherd (by the name of Elzeard Bouffier) and his flock.
The shepherd takes the narrator to a spring and gives him water. Overtime, the narrator becomes curious about this lone shepherd and decides to stay with him a while. They sit at the table, not speaking a word. The narrator observes Bouffier diligently looking at acorns, setting aside the good ones to plant the following day.
Eventually the narrator leaves and returns home to fight in the First World War. When he returns to Bouffier’s land ten years later, he’s surprised to see saplings taking root all over the valley and new streams running through a previously dry land.
Bouffier continues his planting for more than 40 years and eventually the valley begins to turn into something resembling the Garden of Eden. When the “authorities” hear of what’s been happening in the valley, they assume it’s a bizarre natural phenomenon, as they are unaware of Bouffier’s diligent work to keep the valley flourishing.
Unlike many environmental movies, the authorities actually work to save the valley, protecting and cherishing it for years to come.
This is maybe one of the most touching and inspiring films I’ve ever seen. The illustrations are simple, yet magical…and the story is one of hope and possibility. Take 30 minutes out of your weekend to check out The Man Who Planted Trees. It’s available to watch for free here:
“He who plants a tree plants a hope.”
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