'Bonsai - Works of Divinity'
by IMAGINE, Inc.
IMAGINE Inc: 53 min., $35.00 Distributed by International Bonsai
Reviewed by Paul Stokes*
Through fabulous cinematography and excellent editing this DVD conveys a wonderful story: A condensed year in the life of the world-renowned bonsai master Shinji Suzuki.
For those who expect a technical treatise, showing Mr Suzuki styling trees while he tells you why he's doing certain things, you will be disappointed, if only for a moment. Instead, you get to see before and after shots of some trees; There are also passages where Mr Suzuki effortlessly and casually, it seems, performs miracles with extremely old and valuable trees.
However, it should be stressed that this documentary is so much more than the "simple" styling of trees by an accomplished bonsai master. One sentence by the English-speaking narrator caught my attention, "Through the human touch on nature, bonsai is created."
Mr. Suzuki will take you through the decision making process as to which one of his masterpieces he will enter into the Sukufu-Ten bonsai competition. For a bit of inspiration Mr. Suzuki travels to the island of Yakushima to visit the Jamon Cedar, the oldest tree in Japan. He is torn between his desire to enter his favorite tree, and the tree recommended by his friend. His friend advises, "If you want to win, enter this other one." Which pristine specimen will reign supreme? You'll have to watch to find out.
Mr Suzuki takes you inside the Sakufu-Ten competition and behind the scenes. You will see many jaw dropping trees. You get a glimpse into the workings of the judging process, and you will learn some of the attributes the judges are seeking. Who will win this prestigious competition?
I have a criticism of this DVD. It is simply not long enough! For the committed enthusiast, it is clear we all could learn so much from Mr Suzuki.
This DVD is about far more than the physical aspects of bonsai: It is about the spirit behind and within bonsai... A peek into what is takes to be a bonsai master. Beginners and the more advanced bonsai enthusiasts will all love this movie, for the sheer beauty portrayed; for the fascinating insights it shows; and for the wealth of information that makes it necessary to play it repeatedly, lest you miss some hidden gem.
Great value, from one of the greats of bonsai.
*About Paul Stokes
This review was written by Paul Stokes, an amateur bonsai enthusiast from Madison, Wisconsin. A landscaper by trade, Paul has long been fascinated by the miniaturization of trees in pots. He has been involved with bonsai since 2000, when his girlfriend bought him a mini-bonsai starter kit for his birthday; he became a member of Badger Bonsai Society a year later. He is a regular and enthusiastic contributor to bonsai forums, and his current goal is to create a masterpiece bonsai.
** Pictures used with permission from IMAGINE Inc