The animation community is mourning the loss of Frédéric Back, the two-time Oscar-winning animator who passed away from cancer at the age of 89 on Dec. 24. The German-born, French-educated and Montreal-based artist was best known for his hugely influential, hand-drawn 1987 short, The Man Who Planted Trees (L’homme qui Plantait des Arbres). Based on a story by Jean Giano, the half-hour project told the poignant tale of a shepherd who single-handedly repairs the eco-system of a barren valley. Christopher Plummer and Philippe Noiret narrated the English and French-language versions of the short, which was produced by Radio Canada.
Among Back’s other acclaimed shorts were the Oscar-nominated Tout Rien (1980) and The Mighty River (Le Fleuve aux Grandes Eaux) (1994) and the Oscar-winning Crac, which looked at the industrialization of Montreal from the perspective of a rocking chair.
“My films have become ‘classics,’ studied in universities and animation schools for their technical, artistic and cultural content,” Back wrote on his website. “That goes beyond anything I might have hoped for and still surprises me. It shows that politically engaged art is both possible and worthwhile.”
You can revisit his wonderful films here:
The Man Who Planted Trees