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Posts Tagged ‘Peter Wohlleben’

German forester Peter Wohlleben

“THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES” My rating: B

101 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

More New Age navel gazing than rigorous scientific exploration, “The Hidden Life of Trees” is an art film posing as a documentary.

It is based, of course, on German forester Peter Wohlleben’s runaway best seller about, well, the stuff trees are up to right under our noses.

Among other things Wohlleben asserts that trees will band together to “feed” the stumps of their fallen fellows, that our leafy buds can communicate with one another, and that the best forest management is basically to leave the trees alone to do their thing.

Wohlleben’s ecological theories have been embraced by laymen and ridiculed by forest professionals — which is not to say that they lack merit. The pros have been wrong before.

Perhaps in keeping with the woo-woo sensibilities of the source material, Jorg Adolph and Jan Haft’s film steers clear of the usual dry scientific pontificating.

Yeah, we see Wohlleben addressing audiences of eager ecologists and leading woodland tours. There’s footage of him getting down and dirty with plant life in European forests. We see timber being harvesting according to his tree-friendly methodology (for instance, no heavy machinery…massive horses are employed to haul away the logs).

But huge swaths of “The Hidden Life…” are taken up with Daniel Schonauer’s dreamlike nature cinematography, much of it employing slow motion to capture seedlings magically rising from the forest floor and stretching toward the sunlight.

“The Hidden Life…” then, is more noteworthy for its visual wonders and environmental impressionism than for making a measured scientific argument.

Nothing wrong with that…just know what you’ll be getting ahead of time.

| Robert W. Butler

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