The Curse of the Methuselah Tree is an awe-inspiring documentary that takes a deep dive into the history of one of the oldest living organisms on Earth. Set in the inhospitable California desert, this 5,000 year old bristlecone pine tree has withstood time and survived many tumultuous events.
The film’s narrator is Roger McGough, who poetically recounts the tree’s journey through its rings to provide a unique insight into its life. Edmund Schulman discovered Methuselah in the 1950s and his study of its inner rings was fundamental in understanding the tree’s long-standing existence. This history reveals powerful stories of natural disasters, human migration, and industrial pollution.
Notable events depicted include the arrival of Native Americans to the region, followed soon after by European immigrants. The film also shows how industry impacted both wildlife and nature in devastating ways – specifically nuclear tests that sent plumes of smoke and flames into the desert sky.
Though Methuselah may appear weakened from outside appearances, when examined in a lab its seedlings show no signs of deterioration – it is just as potent today as it was when it first sprouted all those years ago. With incredible visuals and stirring poetry, The Curse of the Methuselah Tree offers a compelling look at our planet’s past and encourages viewers to think deeply about our impact on the environment going forward.