On the high winding slopes of the White Mountains of Inyo County in eastern California stands a lone tree in a sanctuary of an ancient bristlecone pine forest.
Here, its gnarly roots have taken hold for almost 5000 years. It pre-dates even the great pyramids of Giza and was well beyond maturity at the birth of Christ.
The tree is called the Methuselah Tree, a name given to it by the scientists who discovered it. (The name ‘Methuselah’ derives from a character in the bible, with the same name, who was said to have lived the longest.)
The Curse Of The Methuselah Tree shows how the climate and dramatic events – from volcanoes to nuclear tests – over the last 5000 years have affected Methuselah’s growth rings.
To illustrate this further, the documentary digs into the archival footage we have of the tree and creates animations overlapping the Methuselah Tree’s life. To enrich these scenes, the documentary intersperses it with Methuselah’s own narration, supplied by poet Roger McGough.
The Curse Of The Methuselah Tree also contemplates the tree’s future and reveals the curse that has followed anyone who has dared to work on the tree – an early death.
- Release date2001
- Full runtime50 minutes
- Narrated byRoger McGough (poetry), William Hootkins (voice of Methuselah), Joe Morton (additional narration)
- Directed byIan Duncan
- Production companyWindfall Films Production
- Distributed byPBS NOVA, Channel 4