The Hidden Life of Trees – See the forest for the trees



Released in Germany over a year ago (in January 2020 as Das geheime Leben der Bäume), the documentary film The hidden life of trees finally makes its way to the United States. (Let’s talk about slow root growth!)

Note: 7 out of 10.

From the bestselling book by German forester and author Peter Wohlleben (The hidden life of trees: what they feel, how they communicate), this film is both a travelogue, a classroom lecture and a cinematic journey through the German forests that Wohlleben studies. (And it turns out that the German woods and do not full of evil witches and wolves like the Brothers Grimm would have us believe.)

The “classroom” parts of the film are just as you might imagine: monotonous, sleeping pills and, yes, in wood and steep; but the cinematic aspect of this film is quite astonishing and well worth the price of admission.

The slow-motion photography of seeds and acorns falling from trees and the time-lapse footage of seedlings growing from the forest floor are incredible; just like the drone footage from above and the top-to-bottom shots of the forest towering above our heads. Jan Haft’s cinematography is amazing and also quite calming to watch.

The film covers Wohlleben’s theories that trees are sentient beings, having social life and communication with each other, and the narrative really takes the viewer into their secret life, proving that most of us don’t. “Never see the forest for the trees”.

Another highlight of the film is Wohlleben’s trip to Sweden to see the oldest tree on earth, an ancient spruce, called Old Tjikko, with a 9,550 year old root system that has grown its trunk several times. It is absolutely mind-boggling to consider the resilience of this living organism. Directed by Jörg Adolph (with the aforementioned cinematography by Jan Haft), The hidden life of trees is a film worthy of those already interested in nature and natural life and will have you take a closer look at tree life the next time you get up close to it; That said, the film is unlikely to convert anyone who sees the forest as a good place to shoot their guns.

The hidden life of trees: what they feel, how they communicate Discoveries of a secret world (The mysteries of nature, 1)

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