‘The Secret Life of the Trees’ Review: Magic Kingdom

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In best selling bookGerman forester Peter Wohlleben sketched in his book “The Secret Life of Trees” with a hypothesis that caught the attention of millions of readers: Trees are social, living beings that talk to each other, feed and nurse their young, feel pain, and have personalities. While Wohlleben’s anthropomorphic language and seductive mix of science and speculation may have offended some professionals, for casual readers this was exactly the selling point: the opportunity to see how trees share some of our own characteristics and are worthy of our empathy and attention.

The documentary “The Secret Life of Trees” directed by Jörg Adolph uses the sensory capacities of cinema to visualize Wohlleben’s observations in an exciting way. Jan Haft’s camera looks deep into the bark and into the entire universe of organisms there; captures the bloom of plant life in exuberant time-lapse shots; lovingly following the outlines of rustling, sun-kissed canopies. Meanwhile, the voice-over reads excerpts from Wohlleben’s book, allowing us to delve into the mysteries of nature beyond human vision and temporality.

These scenes are interspersed with Wohlleben’s field trips and lectures, and as with the book, his accessible style and infectious passion are the main draws here. What the film successfully conveys, rather than scientific certainty, is an impressive sense of curiosity and respect that Wohlleben places on a pragmatic purpose: advocating for the ecological management of forests, which will ensure their collective health and longevity, and therefore forests of forests. humanity. Squatting next to a 10,000-year-old spruce tree, Wohlleben reminds us of the relative insignificance of man as well as his strength. “The one thing he can’t stand,” he says of the undersized tree, “is a chainsaw.”

The Secret Life of Trees
Rated PG. German, Korean, Polish and English, with subtitles. Working time: 1 hour 25 minutes. In movie theaters.

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