Updated: Feb 18, 2021
The Man Who Planted Trees is a short film directed by Frédéric Back and was released in 1987. The film won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and is based on a book also titled The Man Who Planted Trees, written by Jean Giono. The story is about a man named Elzéard Bouffier who essentially lost everything — child, wife, farm, etc. However, the Elzéard tirelessly plants 100 acorns (or similar tree seeds) every day in the desolate land he lives. He doesn't speak much and doesn't ask for help. In fact, when the narrators asks if he can help sort seeds, Elzéard replies that "it is his work."
Eventually, as you can probably guess, those seeds become trees and create a beauty valley. Elzéard lived through two world wars to which he paid no attention... he just kept working and planting trees. Bringing life back to the valley provided a purpose for life. Or rather as the film puts it, As the water reappeared, so did the willow trees, reeds, meadows, gardens, flowers, and a reason for living.
If you want to watch the film, you can do so below.
The film ends with the following beautifully written quote from the narrator.
When I think that one man, one body, and one spirit was enough to turn a desert into the land of Canaan, I found after all that a man's destiny can be truly wonderful. But when I consider the passionate determination and the unfailing generosity of spirit that it took to achieve this end, I am filled with admiration from this old unlearned peasant who was able to complete a task worth God.