This film is a precious find. I came upon it by accident and decided that the forest was a place I wanted to be at that moment. I craved a tapestry of growing green giants and laughing foliage in which to lose myself regardless of the human story that would weave into it. I lost myself completely in greenery but also in the stunning relationship between members of a suffering family sheltering deep in the Canadian forest.
In brief, a father and his two teenage daughters live in an ideal forest location in self-sufficiency. The daughters are discontented with this remote way of life craving the company of their peers and experience of the city. Nell is working to graduate from High School while Eva is practising modern dance in preparation for auditions to become a professional. Then, the closeness of this family of three is suddenly put to the acid test.
A massive power outage hits Canada which causes everything to breakdown. There is no synthetic energy to be had at any price and soon the last gasoline is finished so leaving is not an option. The majority of this intriguing human drama, which can serve as a preparation for all of us in the developed world for such a situation, is about the survival of the two sisters after their father bleeds out as result of a chain saw accident. They re-experience the tragic loss of their mother to disease when father dies and are thrown entirely on their own resources and their exclusive relationship. This situation could happen to any of us in today’s precarious and passive existence.
Without material or parental/adult support, we see the two women gradually reveal their True Nature. Eva, a dancer, is artistic and vulnerable to emotional, unrecovered from the death of her mother with whom she was close. Nell, scientist, logical to the core, essentially practical and quirky, is also newly mourning the terrible loss of her beloved father. This is an awakening for all viewers to two facts: first, most of us tend to take the loving protection and guidance of our parents for granted, and second, that we each have the resources to be independent and to make sense of life in our own way. Both young women quickly recover from their loss and step into the legacies of their parents in order to survive this extreme which they are in no way prepared for.
One day, Nell goes berry-picking – the fruits of the forest being their main source of food as they are both vegetarians. Eva is left behind to chop wood for the approaching winter. A stranger appears, a city refugee, whom she remembers as an acquaintance of her father’s. She lies and tells him that her father is in the forest, but the stranger has been watching them for sometime so sees through her lie.
Quite soon he smells her fear which arouses his male instinct to relieve his own fear by cruelly raping her. Nell hears her screams and races back, but he has left. Eva is physically and emotionally battered by this grotesque act, fast to relinquish all responsibility for human life to her younger sister who sets about boarding up the house and watching with a loaded rifle for the rapist’s return.
Eva recovers very slowly indeed, refusing to eat or get out of bed for an eternity, and when she does venture outside briefly into the forest air, she finds she is pregnant with the trespasser’s child. The sisters must decide what to do as food is in short supply and another mouth to feed could present problems. Nell is prepared to help Eva abort this baby which is the only option to her, but Eva decides she will bring it into the world, a new world with new ways of being. The story of how they deal with the pregnancy and the actual birth with no medical or adult help is moving, inspiring, empowering!
After the decay of their house, they deem it unhealthy to bring up a new being in and so burn it and walk “Into the Forest,” hence the film title.
Although we all may think as moderns we could never survive back in nature, it is our origin! Our ancestors survived what we perceive as Nature’s cruelties and unfairnesses, living wrapped in complete trust and belief in the planet. We consider that we are no longer animals and most of us have missed our chance to be gods or fully enlightened beings, however, we cannot refute that we have indigenous wisdom running through our veins which will enable our survival.
In the forest, we can breathe so deeply in concert with the trees and plants, and if we put aside our psychological fears, our compulsive comparing and judging, and trust the universe, it will provide all we need. It may not be what we are used to, but it is certainly a great deal healthier and we have a superb chance of getting back in touch with our still core, our power as a species, in the process.
By entering into the essence of this story, I was able to survive in the beautiful and resourceful forest. It awakened me to my own unique beauty and resourcefulness as an Earth being, along with that of all beings of our human species.
Images courtesy of imdb.com and megapixyl.com