News / Science & Technology

    In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

    In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survivali
    X
    Rosanne Skirble
    April 22, 2014 12:55 PM
    French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
    In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival
    Rosanne Skirble
    French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary March of the Penguins.

    Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival.

    He calls Once Upon a Forest 'a visual poem' that conveys the wonder of the rainforest, “just to say once again how these forests are amazing, how they are fascinating, how they are in balance.” He spent five months with his crew filming in majestic forests in Gabon and Peru.

    Jacquet teams with famed French botanist Francis Halle to tell the forests' story, which opens with the 75-year-old Halle calmly drawing on his sketch pad. He is perched 70 meters up in the parasol-like crown of a Moabi tree in Gabon's Congo River Basin.
     
    In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival
    In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival i
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    Jacquet says his work on the film helped him understand for the first time what Halle has been preaching for decades, that trees have their own way to be alive.

    “When you think this way," Jacquet said, "you discover a new universe, a universe of trees.  It is interesting because at that point you begin to start to think that this is not the animals who are the kings of the forest. The trees are the kings of the forest.”  

    The movie captures the life story of the rain forest. Within that tale are dozens of actors - a parade of leaf-cutting ants, a fruit-eating, seed-dropping monkey, a jaguar that prowls across the screen with stealthy steps and vines that entangle a mighty strangler fig tree to make way for another giant to take its place in the forest.

    Some of those events can take hundreds of years in tree time, so Jacquet speeds them up by animating Halle’s drawings and mixing them with close-up live action.
     
    • The world’s largest and most colorful monkey species, the Mandrill, may also be the most elusive like this one in Gabon. (Credit: ©Wild-Touch, Sarah Del Ben, 2012)
    • Lianas are long-stemmed, woody vines rooted in the soil that climb or twine around other plants. (Credit: ©Wild-Touch, Sarah Del Ben, 2012)
    • French botanist Francis Halle, here sketching a giant Moabi, is later hoisted into its canopy during the filming of Once Upon a Forest. (Credit: ©Wild-Touch, Sarah Del Ben, 2012)
    • The canopy of the majestic Moabi stands out in the Congo River Basin forest landscape. (Credit: ©Wild-Touch, Sarah Del Ben, 2012)
    • Moabi fruits are eaten, the bark is used for medicinal purposes and cooking oil is extracted from the seeds for sale and domestic use. (Credit: ©Wild-Touch, Sarah Del Ben, 2012)
    • Inselbergs are enormous rocks that stick out above the rainforest like islands, sometimes rising several hundred meters above the vegetation, shown here in northeastern Gabon. (Credit: ©Wild-Touch, Sarah Del Ben, 2012)
    • Gabon, which is covered nearly entirely by rainforest, is one of few places on Earth where a primary tropical rainforest extends all the way to the beach. (Credit: ©Wild-Touch, Sarah Del Ben, 2012)
    • Straddling the equator, Gabon’s Ivindo National Park has some of the most impenetrable rainforests and wildest rivers on Earth. (Credit: ©Wild-Touch, Sarah Del Ben, 2012)
    • French director Luc Jacquet created the non-profit foundation Wild-Touch in 2010 to promote environmental conservation through film and other media. (Credit: ©Wild-Touch, Sarah Del Ben, 2012)
    • French botanist Francis Halle (right) has watched the rapid disappearance of the rainforest over his lifetime and challenged filmmaker Luc Jacquet (left) to tell its story. (Credit: ©Wild-Touch, Sarah Del Ben, 2012)

    Inside all this imagery is a world where every plant and every animal is intimately connected with one another.  Trees keep this ever-growing, ever-changing family in balance.

    The filmmaker finds the interaction amazing.

    "We start to understand the language of the trees and the language of the flowers," he said. "There is a very complex chemical substance in the forest, and we know that trees are not talking with words, they are talking with scents and they are able to mix this scent like words to make a text, and they are able to exchange messages. They are able to modify the behavior of animals with this substance.”

    Jacquet captures the magic of a fleeting cloud or the dazzle of sunlight streaming through a break in the canopy in exquisite detail, with sweeps across grand vistas and close-ups that travel the length of a single tree, shot by remote cameras mounted on small flying drones.

    The filmmaker sews these scenes together to put the soul of the forest on the big screen. He says walking its hallowed grounds and following its daily rituals tap into what it means to be human.

    “There is something very ancient in our brain," Jacquet said. "I guess this is an idea, but I think we are deeply made to be there.”  

    And, if people can forge that bond with nature, Jacquet says, to see themselves as part of the forest and not alien to it, we are a step closer to saving the rainforest rather than becoming an agent in its demise. 

    Once Upon a Forest is being shown worldwide at film festivals, is in commercial release in Europe, and will be seen later this year in Asia and Latin America.

    You May Like

    Video US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora