Review: The Hidden Life of Trees


The entire forest, both above and underground, is an entire social mesh of connection, a true worldwide web. National forests that have been protected and cared for can even be referred to as “super organisms” similar to “ant colonies.”

Germany’s Peter Wohlleben, über forester, ecologist, and writer, walks through a beautiful forest and asks, “Why are trees such social beings? Why do they share food with others of their own species?”

Based on Wohlleben’s best-selling book “The Hidden Life of Trees,” this gorgeous film takes us into the ground in slow-mo to view the busy city where “there are more forms of life in a handful of forest soil than there are people on the planet.”

Is it best to leave these families together?

With all the summer fires on the American west coast, one of Wohlleben’s first rules is to disrupt a forest as little as possible. Even logging trucks do tremendous damage by squishing the layers of dirt together so that water pathways for sustaining underground root systems are destroyed and making it hard for a forest to sustain itself during times of heat.
Wohlleben is called upon to explain when to cut, what to cut, how to cut, and why. His first rule is to haul diseased or thinned wood in and out by draft horse.

And what about transplants? What happens when a young tree is taken from a forest to be replanted somewhere else? That and other questions are answered with tremendous knowledge about root systems.

What contributes to a tree’s longevity?

The film takes us to the oldest tree in the world and explains how it has lasted through many climate changes. The tree is almost 10,000 years old with secrets to reveal, including how to survive climate change.

Trees scream out for help

Trees are sentient beings that pursue their own objectives. Their intercommunication system is intricate. At the tip of each root is a brain-like structure. Electrical signals can be delivered here that lead to behavior changes.

Wohlleben explains what happens when an insect attacks the leaf on a tree. The tree feels pain and screams out. Then there is a systemic response that is like the rousing of an army.


At a time when we are looking for help with climate change and the sustainability of our natural world, “The Hidden Life of Trees” brings crucial forestry information to the table with gorgeous color and a surprising story.

“The Hidden Life of Trees,” an immersive documentary on how trees think, communicate and remember, opens July 16 in theaters, including Cinema Village in NYC and Laemmle Monica Film Center in LA.


Directors: Jörg Adolph and Jan Haft (nature shootings)
Writers: Jörg Adolph and Peter Wohlleben( book)
Stars: Peter Wohlleben, Achim Bogdahn, Markus Lanz, David Suzuki, and others
Producers: Martin Moszkowicz, Friederich Oetker and Susann Funke
Music: Freya Arde
Score: Franziska Henke
Cinematography: Daniel Schonauer and Jan Haft (nature)
Editing: Anja Pohl
Released: 23 Jan. 2020 (Germany) and 16 July 2021 (US)

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