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Frédéric Back, Director of "The Man Who Planted Trees"
an article by Janet Hudgins

Video: The Man Who Planted Trees

Frédéric Back recently died after a lifetime of producing art and animated films, the most recognized of which is “The Man Who Planted Trees." The film won him two Academy Awards. He was an eco-artist, his love of nature and his creative talent making him celebrated in his animation and paintings, copies of which are still available online and in libraries. See the Cartoon Brew website.


A frame from the film, The Man Who Planted Trees

click on photo to enlarge

Back was born in Germany, emigrated to Montreal in 1948, began his career as a graphic artist in Radio Canada (first television) and teaching art at Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Montreal. In the 1970s and 80s he produced many films, was nominated and won awards, the Order of Canada among them, and his animation became famous. It is still studied in art schools “for their technical, artistic and cultural content,” Back wrote on his website. “That goes beyond anything I might have hoped for and still surprises me. It shows that politically engaged art is both possible and worthwhile.”

I have loved “The Man Who Planted Trees” for 30 years and never tire of seeing it again. Taken from a story by the French short story writer, Jean Giano, the hand-drawn 30-minute animation tells the tale of a shepherd who sees a barren valley and restores it with thousands of trees. Canadian actor Christopher Plummer narrates the English version and it was produced by Radio Canada.

Among Back’s other acclaimed shorts were the Oscar- nominated Tout Rien (1980) and The Mighty River (Le Fleuve aux Grandes Eaux) (1994) and the Oscar- winning Crac, which looked at the industrialization of Montreal from the perspective of a rocking chair.

DISCUSSION

Question(s) related to this article:


Do the arts create a basis for a culture of peace?, What is, or should be, their role in our movement?

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Latest reader comment:

Yes, the arts do create a basis for a culture of peace.
The question I would raise is where are the visual artists who have produced a Guernica like painting of Felluja? Paintings last longer than photographs which are too often fleeting.
Do the poets against the war meet annually?
I caught a bit of an interesting tv show which featured world class artists such as Wole Soyinka speaking in Israel/Palestine about ways to further the peace movement there. Did anyone else see the entire show?
I hope a local Peace Day could emulate the UN opening ceremony .


This report was posted on December 28, 2013.