Thursday, May 30, 2024

Heart of an Oak

 This enchanting documentary, courtesy of Laurent Charbonnier and Michel Seydoux, charts one year in the life of an oak somewhere in France. There is no narration and no subtitles, making it a viewing experience that depends on attention to detail and enjoyment of the soundtrack. There is occasional music,  some of it jarringly intrusive. 

But mostly Heart of an Oak is about the creatures that call this mighty ancient tree their home, the red squirrel that has made a nest on an extended branch, the boar and dree that come to graze, the insects that are hatched, grow up and die under its gaze, and the birds that come and go as they please. 

The four seasons are the structure for the film, with summer explosions of colour leading into the more withdrawn seasons of autumn and winter and ending with the return of flowers and leaves in spring. It is gorgeously shot and one does wonder at the technical wizardry that allows viewers to watch mice traversing their tunnels underground, as well as an acorn growing and sending up shoots. CGI may well play a part. 

The drama comes from encounters between frogs and weevils, predatory birds stalking their prey and the ingenious squirrel evading both snake and birds. Human beings are notably absent. Hurrah. 

This is nature taking centre stage and showing off its gifts, among them the humble acorn growing into a sapling next to its progenitor. 

Heart of an Oak is released on Icon Film Channel on 10 June. 

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