A 1987 documentary about the life and work of 92-year-old environmentalist Richard St. Barbe Baker, Man of the Trees is evocative in a funky, ’50s travelogue way.
As Baker tells the story of his work educating society about trees’ critical role in maintaining the earth’s ecological balance, we see majestic scenery: mountains and forests so dense and lush you can almost smell their sharp, luxurious fragrance. Then come scenes of the decimated Amazon Basin and, in California, the eerie groan of a giant redwood as it is felled. The contrast gives a clear and awful understanding that part of the earth is being killed. Since 1950, a narrator says, half the world’s forests have been depleted and not replaced.
The most poignant aspect of this tape, and maybe the loveliest for kids, comes when Baker speaks movingly about the strength and inspiration he has drawn from trees.
As he pokes along through the thick forest near his New Zealand home, we find it not very strange that a person might enjoy talking to trees. A