The serene Moonbridge, hidden within Le Jardin des Quatres Vents. Photo Credit: ©Gracieuseté
Frank Cabbott didn’t like when people chattered away in his garden. He preferred them to drink it in, and ponder quietly. Listen.
Filmmaker Sebastien Chabot has captured the essence of Frank Cabbott and his world famous, award-winning garden in the film The Gardener. After 220 hours of filming over four years, he has finally presented Frank Cabbott's legacy to the world.
The film sets out to illustrate the soul-stirring beauty achieved when nature and humans work hand-in-hand. It slowly reveals and explores Le Jardin des Quatres Vents, on the historical Cabbott family property in Malbaie, Quebec.
“The Gardener” is as meticulous and detail-oriented as its subject, Frank Cabbot. The film is rich with attention to history. It includes supple, tactile close ups of plants flowers, the artistic structures and features within the garden, and beautiful views of La Malbaie and the St. Lawrence.
Chabot created a slow reveal effect by showcasing one-by-one, the garden’s many sections and features, yet I was left feeling I had missed out on a grand finale. Spectacular long shots of the garden were missing. A few seconds of drone footage would have been a wonderful addition.
The slow pace of the film, while emphasizing Frank Cabbott’s intention of his garden, to experience nature as a living piece of art, borders on too slow at times. While the gardeners in the audience will appreciate each loving shot, reveal and wrack focus on each delphinium, non-gardeners might be challenged to stay focused.
The film’s strengths lie in revealing the deep connection between gardener and garden. Even in his final months on earth, Cabbot was intimate with his garden. He could visualize taking the audience through the garden while never leaving his chair. He knew in perfect detail each nook and cranny, each twist of the path, the personalities of his flowers and trees which now survive him. Knowing this, I truly appreciated the footage of Mr. Cabbott exploring and enjoying his garden near the end of the film. That was a treat, and seeing it touched my heart.
The film also included an impressive interview with Right Honourable Governor General Adrienne Clarkson. She spoke about her understanding that Cabbott's garden is not ornamental, but rather a channel for people to connect with nature, a piece of living art, and a reflection of the man’s soul. She has visited the garden multiple times, and like thousands of others, has found solace there.
I am thankful this solace has now been shared with everyone through Chabot’s film. “The Gardener” was tenderly made, and clearly shows the love for the garden and its creator.
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