The Man Who Planted Trees

Frédéric Back (1987)

The Oscar he won for Crac! allowed Frédéric Back to fulfill his dream of bringing Jean Giono’s wonderful story The Man Who Planted Trees to the screen. In more distilled form, its environmental message and philosophy of life reflect the concerns already addressed by Back in his previous films. The seeds that the shepherd plants are the symbol of all our actions, good and bad, which have far-reaching consequences we can scarcely imagine. It is up to us to think and act in accordance with our hopes for the future, and, if possible, to leave behind us a world more beautiful and promising than the one we inherited.

The Man Who Planted Trees is a short story published in 1953 by French author Jean Giono. An allegorical tale, it tells the story of one shepherd’s long and successful single-handed effort to re-forest a desolate valley in the foothills of the Alps in Provence throughout the first half of the 20th century. It was written in French, but first published in English.


  1. Yes, I remember reading about “Elzeard Bouvier” in The Whole Earth Catalogue years ago. I think I saw this film at a film festival several years ago. Maybe I saw it on PBS. Beautiful!

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