Bialowieza – Home of the Bison

From the five-part ARTE TV series "Europe's Primordial Forests"

A Film by Gernot Stadler

Documentation, 2009
MedienKontor Movie GmbH
Written and directed by
Gernot Stadler
Dietmar Kaltenhofer
Patrick Kemmner
Sven Ibald, Viviane Schmidt-Gaster
Theo Baltz

The Białowieża Forest is the last prehistoric lowland mixed forest in Europe. At no place on the continent has such a primeval forest been preserved. The biodiversity is staggering: there are more than 17,000 animal and plant species here, including many endemic species that occur only here. The oldest trees in the Białowieża Forest are over 500 years old. Beavers, wild boars, lynx and wolves live here. And especially the bison, the relatives of the American bison, who once inhabited large parts of Europe, but whose last free-moving herds can now only be found here, in the east of the continent. A visit to the primeval forest of Bialowieza is like a journey into another time. A time before man began to push back nature and conquer the wilderness. Here, in Białowieża, time seems to stand still.

The film shows the rich diversity of nature in the Białowieża primeval forest, shows what makes this last lowland primeval forest so unique. Mystical landscapes and images of rare animals allow the spectator to relive the magic of the forest. It becomes clear what distinguishes a primeval forest from a cultural forest, how different plant and animal species interact, how life cycles and habitats interact. It is the protagonists of the film, who let us share in their lives for a short time and thus open up “their” perspective on the forest and its peculiarities. It also shows how important it is for people to treat this unique natural heritage, this magnificent, vast forest area of Białowieża, where time – at least apparently – stands still.