Showing posts with label Nicolas Hulot. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nicolas Hulot. Show all posts

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Extraordinary TV evening

Last night, Christine and I were enchanted by yet another superb documentary in the Ushuaïa Nature series by Nicolas Hulot... whom I first mentioned back on 12 December 2006 in an article entitled Monsieur Hulot [display]. This time, the theme of Hulot's adventures was the Amazon in Brazil.

After a few preliminaries about the suicidal destruction of this Amazonian vegetation that is an essential component of Man's survival, punctuated by delightful shots of contacts with friendly dolphins, Hulot plunged into a fabulous reportage of his encounter with a community of naked Indians called the Zo'é.

Members of this small and tightly-knit tribe live in a harmonious Jungle of Eden, where the greatest danger consists of getting killed by a serpent or a panther. Their method of resolving certain social conflicts between members of the community involves laughing. The protagonists are made to lie down on the ground, where they are tickled until they burst out into mad laughter.

Enthralled by Hulot's amazing and magnificent documentary, Christine and I could hardly believe our eyes when we discovered a textual message scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen, informing viewers that Ingrid Betancourt had just been liberated. It was one of those exceptional news items, like the death of President Kennedy (except that, this time, it was wonderful news), when you never forget what you were doing when you received the message. Christine and I, like countless French TV viewers yesterday evening, will surely never forget that we were watching Nicolas Hulot in Amazonia. But, up until the end of the Ushuaïa program, there was no detailed news yet, neither on TV nor on the Internet: nothing more than the message that scrolled non-stop across the screen. And then everything started to happen rapidly.



We imagined confusedly that we might soon see terrible video sequences of a fragile Ingrid Betancourt being wheeled out of a military helicopter on a stretcher, under the surveillance of a medical team. Instead of that, we were amazed by the image of a sturdy smiling combatant, in military clothes, striding down from an airliner like an astronaut who has just returned safely, and in perfect health, from a mission to a remote spot in the sky. A few minutes later, Ingrid was addressing spectators on the tarmac in the style of a politician, a statesman, a general. At times, as she shared with us her vision of six years as a hostage in the jungle, Ingrid had the saintly regard of a madonna from a medieval painting. She had the same kind of simple and ethereal splendor as a Zo'é native, on the fringe of our cruel planet.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Vote for the planet Earth!

I've translated into English the flyer for a big outdoor reunion in Paris, next Sunday at the Trocadéro, organized by the Nicolas Hulot Foundation. If you feel like listening to Nicolas explaining in French his ecological pact, click here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Monsieur Hulot

In most of the films he directed, Jacques Tati [1908-1982] played the role of a comic character called Monsieur Hulot. This pipe-smoking eccentric, constantly attired in a gabardine raincoat and hat, was modeled upon a real individual: an architect who rebuilt Saint-Malo after the bombing of Normandy.

Today, the architect’s grandson, 55-year-old Nicolas Hulot, is rapidly becoming one of France’s most-celebrated personalities: not merely the familiar and talented producer of the spectacular Ushuaïa TV series on the wonders of the natural world, but now the leader of a dynamic program aimed at promoting ecological awareness in political spheres.

During my recent visit to Australia, I was surprised to discover that, whereas most people recall Commandant Jacques-Yves Cousteau [1910-1997], nobody seems to have heard of Nicolas Hulot, or seen his extraordinary TV work... which nevertheless exists now on DVD. Hulot is Cousteau in overdrive: an exponential power shift. If Cousteau were to be likened to a basic automobile, Hulot is in the Formula 1 category.

Nicolas Hulot, at the head of the 10-year-old Fondation Nicolas-Hulot pour la nature et l’homme, recently published a so-called ecological pact, which he has been proposing to candidates for next year’s French presidential election. Piles of this document are on sale in every bookshop and supermarket in France. The pact includes five engagements:

— Appointment of a deputy prime minister in charge of durable development.

— Imposition of a tax on carbon dioxide emission.

— Reorientation of agricultural policies.

— Organization of participative debates on environmental questions.

— Implementation of educational programs in ecology.

This afternoon, the socialist candidate Ségolène Royal met up with Hulot and expressed her overall acceptance of the measures set out in his pact. Meanwhile, Jacques Chirac had invited Hulot along to the Elysée Palace, earlier in the day, and asked him to be a member of the committee preparing a conference in Paris, on 2-3 February, aimed at setting up a World Environment Organization. There's no doubt about it: Monsieur Hulot, these days, is much in demand.

Besides the ecological pact, another little book, published in 1989, is a must for those who wish to understand the force that has been driving Monsieur Hulot in his fabulous media activities and his ecological crusade. It’s an autobiography whose title, Les chemins de traverse, might be translated as Crossroads. Nicolas relates the tragic story of the suicide of his brother Gonzague in the cellar of the family’s Paris flat. It was 18-year-old Nicolas himself who came upon the decaying body on Christmas Eve 1974, when he was helping his sister prepare the festivities. Gonzague had left a paper stating: Life is not worth living. And, ever since that discovery of his dead brother (which was not revealed to his mother and relatives during the entire Christmas evening, to avoid spoiling the get-together), Nicolas has devoted his existence to proving that Gonzague’s words were terribly wrong.