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The Man Who Planted Trees (1987)

L'homme qui plantait des arbres (original title)
1:08 | Trailer

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The story of a shepherd's single handed quest to re-forest a barren valley.


Frédéric Back


Jean Giono (story), Jean Roberts (translator: English version)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Philippe Noiret ... Narrator
Christopher Plummer ... Narrator (voice)


This film tells the story of a shepherd who repairs the ruined ecosystem of a secluded valley by single-handedly cultivating a forest over a thirty year period. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

11 June 1988 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

The Man Who Planted Trees See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



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Did You Know?


Christopher Plummer was the narrator voice for the English dubbed version. See more »

Alternate Versions

Flashback scenes of an abandoned Roman Village's self-destruction cut from most versions. See more »

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User Reviews

My search for a movie universally loved and admired may be completed
27 June 2007 | by G_a_l_i_n_aSee all my reviews

Frédéric Back's 30 minutes long Oscar winning animated film "The Man Who Planted Trees" is astounding work of art with its beautiful story and the images that equal it. The story written by the French writer Jean Giono that tells about Elzeard Bouffier, a quiet shepherd, and later bee keeper who never talked much but over 35 years of hard work singlehandedly cultivated a magnificent forest in a desolate area of Provence, France and made it a peaceful and happy home for over 10, 000 people, is highly moving, inspirational, and life-affirming. It makes a viewer proud of what a man can achieve if he is determined to create, not to destroy. Every frame looks and feels not like a flat drawing but like a beloved painting of a celebrated impressionist painter (Monet, Sisley, Morisot, and Pissarro, the "purest" impressionists come first to mind). To achieve this effect, Back worked on unpolished acetates using crayons and modulating the colors. During the film, the colors change dramatically from barren and lifeless desert like palette in the beginning to the tender glowing delicate colors of blossoming eternal Spring in the final scenes. I was absolutely mesmerized by Back's visual style and his ability to beautifully translate such a literally story to the screen and not to lose any of its appeal but on the contrary to enrich it with incredible taste and unique exquisite beauty and tenderness of his images. For the first time, I came across the work of animation that reminded me so much of my all time favorite animated film "Tale of Tales" by Yuri Norstein, artistically and spiritually. It was not surprising for me to find out that Norstein and Back have met, respect and admire each other work and that Norstein studied Back's techniques and took with him to Moscow Back's acetates and coloring pencils that he was going to use while working on his ambitious project, full feature animation "Overcoat".

There is one question that pops up from time to time on the different IMDb boards, "Is there any movie that all viewers would love and cherish"? I am always skeptical and up until tonight used to believe that the universally loved movie simply does not exist. I am happy to admit that I was wrong. I don't think that anyone who saw this little marvel may not be affected by its clear message, its kindness, beauty, and artistry.

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