Giants Rising (Lisa Landers, 2023): USA

Reviewed by B Pyle at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, 2024.
  Giants Rising (Lisa Landers, 2023), 85 min, United States, was a Santa Barbara Feature and World Premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2024,  The film is also made in partnership with The Redford Center, and sponsored in part by Manitou Fund, a major funder of the festival.  

If you have any interest in nature, and the true splendor of the planet Earth and its magnificent possibilities, this is a movie you would definitely enjoy and like to see.  Even if you are mildly interested in nature programs, or would like to learn more about the health benefits of walking outdoors, this movie will provide some awe just by seeing the great cinematography.  

The movie tells the awesome tale of the amazing real life wonders, the California coast redwoods.  These redwood trees are sometimes thousands of years old.  The history and magnificence of these living earthlings gives a grand perspective to us possibly centennial living humans about endurance and longevity, peace and tranquility, and survival, and history on planet earth.  The movie also tells about the history of the native people who have lived where the redwoods grow.  There are redwoods on Yurok ancestral land, and the Yurok play an important role in this documentary.  They tell of systemic extermination, and how today, they are consulted and heading restoration and maintenance of the remaining redwoods still in existence.  

There are many stories interwoven in the narrative, and this multi-perspective storytelling, from scientific, to Native, to artist, makes the movie well rounded and interesting.  The movie tells of survival and renewed life of the trees in the current climate, and previously with ninety-five percent of the trees having been logged in the industrialization of America.  Resilience of the trees is discussed, as well as health benefits for individuals and communities from current day psychologists.  The Yurok people considered the trees to be sacred living beings, like people, as well as the canoes that they create from the trees.  The movie has some animations to explain the science of respiration, and benefits of being in the trees’ presence on the human brain.  An artist professor spends time photographing the trees and planning to project a full size tree three hundred feet onto a building in the city to bring the nature concept and awareness back into the industrialized world. 

Camerawork for the interviews, and of the trees themselves is well done.  If you would like to take a walk in a wondrous forest, this movie is like doing that in the comfort of the theater.  People here try to share their knowledge, wisdom, and care, from scientists, to parkworkers, to psychologists who study empathy and improved brain function.  The editing and interviews are well done and compelling, and inspire appreciation and awe for all of the known and unknown benefits of these magnificent trees.

If you like NOVA, or nature programming anywhere, or preservation, this would be a good film to watch.  If you like to learn about the history of the planet, or people, this would be a good film to watch.  It has great graphics like some of the David Attenborough narrated nature programming, like Blue Planet I and II.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and would recommend it for the sheer joy and awe and new learning and appreciation it inspired.  Exhale, inhale, Thank You Redwoods!

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