Le Chêne: a gem of a nature documentary [critique]

Michel Seydoux and Laurent Charbonnier seize the king of trees and its ecosystem to sign a tale flirting with Hitchcockian suspense. A success.

At last ! It’s the cry from the heart that we want to push in front of this film by Laurent Charbonnier (Chambord) and producer Michel Seydoux (for his directorial debut, after a long spell in football with LOSC). Finally a documentary on nature devoid of one of these soothing voice-overs which believes it essential to have to explain everything one sees with an often risky sense of popularization. Finally a documentary on nature that tells a story (with Michel Fessler writing, already at work on the multi-award winning The emperor’s walk of Luc Jacquet) instead of compiling images as spectacular as they are. A powerfully sensory film with a hero – a 210-year-old oak tree – and a multitude of secondary characters, all those who live in its ecosystem (jays, squirrels, blue-hulots, weevils, etc.) whose adventures take on Hitchcockian suspense as much as the survival of some are hanging by a thread. While relying on solid documentation work and a keen sense of nature observation, Laurent Charbonnier (behind the camera, filming this oak tree located less than a kilometer from his house) and Michel Seydoux (in the editing room with Sylvie Lager, who notably worked on On the way to school Where Pain) do not resonate documentary but fiction. With a hero, secondary characters and the adventures experienced by each which end up forming a large coherent whole. Yes, finally a nature documentary aimed at 7 to 77 year olds without trying to over-explain and simplify everything to get to the lowest of common denominators! Their bet with The Oak is simply to let their spectators live an experience rather than an object lesson. Successful bet.

By Michel Seydoux and Laurent Charbonnier. Documentary… Duration: 1h20. Released February 23, 2022

Leave a Reply