Friday, 1 August 2008

The Man Who Planted Trees

The Man Who Planted Trees also known as The Story of Elzéard Bouffier, The Most Extraordinary Character I Ever Met, and The Man Who Planted Hope and Reaped Happiness, is a tale by French author Jean Giono.

In 1953 the magazine Reader´s Digest´s publisher asked Jean Giono for a story about the most extraordinary character he had ever met. Giono sent him this tale and hope it would arouse the interest about afforesting program.
The publisher gave the story back to Giono with incomprehension so the story was first published a year later in Vogue under the title The Man Who Planted Hope and Reaped Happiness.

The narator describes the story of a shepherd, Elzéard Bouffier, who re-forests a desolate valley in the foothills of the Alps near Provence throughout the first half of the 20th century.

Some interesting information from wikipedia:

An animated adaptation of the story was created by Frederic Back in 1987. This 30-minute short film was distributed in two versions - French and English - narrated respectively by noted actors Philippe Noiret and Christopher Plummer.
It won the Academy Award for best animated short film, as well as several other awards that year. In 1994, it was voted #44 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time.

The story in English:

The (whole) film in Czech:

The film in English (divided to 4 parts):

I love the story, it makes me hug the trees even more:-) But the film is more strongest. It is the most wonderful and touching animation story I have ever seen. I love it.

Another interesting information from wikipedia:

The story itself is so touching that many readers have believed that Elzéard Bouffier was a genuine historical figure and that the narrator of the story was a young Jean Giono himself, and that so the tale is part autobiographical. Certainly, Giono lived during this time. While he was alive, Giono enjoyed allowing people to believe that the story was real, and considered it as a tribute to his skill. His daughter, Aline Giono, described it as "a family story for a long time".

However, Giono himself explained in a 1957 letter to an official of the city of Digne:
"Sorry to disappoint you, but Elzéard Bouffier is a fictional person. The goal was to make trees likeable, or more specifically, make planting trees likeable."

In the letter, he describes how the book was translated in a multitude of languages, distributed freely, and therefore was a success. He adds that, although "it does not bring me a cent", it is one of the texts of which he is proud the most.

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