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 Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More