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The Man Who Planted Trees part 1 of 3

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The man who planted trees a story by Jean Giono Many years ago I set out on a walking tour high in the Alps a region quite unknown to travelers, by ancient mountains that extend down into Provence The track begun on barren mounts, 12 to 13 hundred meters above sea level, through land that was bleak and monotonous. Nothing grew there but wild lavender. My route led across a region at its widest point and after hiking for three days, I found myself in a waste land, desolate, beyond description. I made camp near the remains of an abandoned village. The day before my water supply had run out and I had to find some. The cluster of houses although they were in ruin reminding me of an old wasps nest, make me think that once there must have been a fountain or perhaps a well. There was indeed a fountain. But it was dry. The roofless houses eaten away by wind and rain, and the chapel with its crumbling belfry, stood arranged like houses and churches in a living village, but here life had vanished. It was a sunny, cloudless June day but over these bare highs, blow a fierce, insufferable wind. Growling through the skeleton of the houses, it sounded like a wild beast disturbed while feeding on its prey. I had to move camp. After five hours of walking, I still had found no water, and I could see nothing that gave me hope of finding any. Everywhere, I came upon the same drought, the same coarse weeds. In a distance, something caught my eye. A thin dark shape, that I took for a tree trunk. But just in case, I walked towards it. It was a shepherd. And beside him, resting on the burning ground laid about thirty sheep. He let me drink from his gourde, and pleasantly he led me to his sheep whole in a hollow in the plain. He drew water - excellent water it was too - from a very deep natural well, over which he had rimmed a simple windlass. The man spoke very little. Often the way with people who live alone, but he appeared sure of himself and confident in his assurance. It all seemed somehow strange in this barren land. He lived not in a hut but in a real house,a stone house, whose walls clearly show how his own labor had repaired the ruin that had once been. Its roof was solid and strong. And the wind on its tile sounded like the sea upon the seashore. Inside was neat and tidy, dishes washed, floor swept, shot gun oiled, his soup simmered over the fire. And I noticed that he was freshly shaved, and all his buttons were firmly sewed on, and his clothes were done with that meticulous care which makes the darn invisible. He shared his soup with me. When I offered him my tobacco pouch, he told me he did not smoke. The dog, silent like his master, was friendly without vileness. It had been agreed that I would spend the night; the nearest village was still almost two days walk away. Villages in this region were few and far between and I knew well what they were like. four or five of them were scattered over the slopes of these highlands, each one at the very end of track among corpses of white oaks. They were inhabited by charcoal burners. They’re living was poor. The families hollow together in a climate very harsh both in summer and winter, found their struggle for survival made more bitter by their isolation. There was no relief. The constant longing to escape became a crazy ambition. Endlessly the men carted their charcoal to town then returned home. Even the most stable characters cracked under the constant behind. The women seed the resentment, there was rivalry in everything, the sale of charcoal and the church pee, they were rivals in virtue and rivals in vice. And the battle between vice and virtue raged incessantly. And on this there was the wind, they had a present wind, constantly grating on the nerves. There was epidemic of suicide, and many cases of madness, nearly always ending in murder. The shepherd, who did not smoke, went to fetch a little sac and onto the table he emptied a pile of acorns. He began to examine them very carefully, one by one, separating the good from the bad. I sat, smoking my pipe. I offered to help but he told me it was his work. And indeed, seeing how very carefully he carried out his task, I did not insist. That was the only time we spoke. When he had set aside enough acorns, he divided them into piles of ten. As he did this he discarded the smaller ones or those that were cracked, but now he was examining them very very closely. When finally there laid before him a hundred perfect acorns, he stopped. And we went to our beds. Being with this man brought a great sense of peace. The following morning, I asked him if I might stay on and rest for the day. He found that quite natural or to be more precise he gave me the impression that nothing could upset him. A day of rest was not absolutely necessary but I was intrigued and I wanted to learn more about him. He let his sheep out of their pen and led them to their grazing. Before he went, he took a little bag of carefully chosen acorns and put them to a pail of water to soak. I noticed that for a walking stick, he carried an iron rod, thick as my thumb and about as height as my shoulder. Pretending to take a leisurely stroll, I followed him at a distance but keeping on a parallel path with him.

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 51 seconds
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Genre: Animated
Producer: Frédéric Back
Director: Frédéric Back
Views: 267
Posted by: simitsekphd on Jan 25, 2010

Beautiful award-winning animated film based on an short story (also public domain) by Jean Giono. Features a message about the power of the individual and has inspired wild tree-planting worldwide.

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