To mark the release of A Monster Calls this week (read our glowing review here) here’s a pictorial guide to some of the best sentient trees that sci-fi and fantasy has to offer (in no particular order, we just like numbering things)
1 The Monster – A Monster Calls
We don’t want to give too much away as the film has only just come out (though the book was published in 2011, so maybe it’s too late for spoilers) but the “monster” at the heart of A Monster Calls is part Ent, part Groot, part John Hurt as The Storyteller, and totally, utterly magnificent in his own right.
2 Groot – Guardians Of The Galaxy
He is Groot.
3 The Great Deku Tree – The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
The Great Deku Tree sets Link off on his adventures in the Ocarina Of Time after it’s cursed by the evil Gerudo King of Thieves, Ganondorf, as punishment for not giving him the Kokiri’s Emerald. After telling Link that he must save Hyrule from malevolent forces, the Great Deku Tree withers and dies. But like Groot, he later reappears in sapling form to help out Link again.
4 Treebeard – The Lord Of The Rings
The Ents were a race of talking trees in JRR Tolkein’s The Lord Of The Rings, the oldest of whom was Treebeard, who hung out in the Forest of Fangborn, frightening small hobbits even though he was a good guy. In fact, Treebeard claimed to be the oldest living creature in Middle-earth. Tolkein derived their name from the Anglo-Saxon word for giant.
5 Harold – Fallout
Harold is a recurring character in the Fallout series who, through viral mutation/radiation poisoning, becomes symbiotically combined with a tree. He begins as a mutated human with a small tree growing out of his head, but later resembles a fully grown tree with a wooden human form embedded in it.
6 The Apple Tree – The Wizard Of Oz
Dorothy makes the mistake of picking an apple from a talking apple tree who is seriously not okay with people helping themselves to his precious fruit. He looks like he’s going to go all Evil Dead on Miss Gale before the Scarecrow intervenes…
7 Grandmother Willow – Pocahontas
Grandmother Willow is the mentor to Disney’s Pocahontas, offering sage advice to the film’s heroine. Oddly she does very little weeping. Likes terrible puns such as, “My bark is worse than my bite,” and claims, “There’s still some snap in these old vines!”
8 The Talking Trees – HR Pufnstuf
This bizarre US children’s show from the late ’60s was full of bizarre characters that looked like the result of a Muppet having a seriously bad trip. It was set on a fantasy island where everything was sentient (apart, perhaps, from the scriptwriters) and that included a veritable forest of talking trees. The main ones were a hippy tree, a snooty upperclass Duchess tree and a a seriously pre-political correctness red indian tree. There was also a female tree whose mouth was permanently in the shape of an “O” which made her look unsettlingly like a wooden sex doll…
9 The Whomping Willow – Harry Potter
It didn’t talk but this tree in the grounds of Hogwarts certainly had a bit of an attitude problem, with a habit of trying to crush unwary students. We’re not sure what OFSTED would say about that.
10 The Weirwood Trees – Game Of Thrones
The weirwoods of Westeros are believed by the Northmen and the Wildlings to be the physical representations of their gods. Later in George RR Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire book series, it’s revealed that weirwoods store the souls of dead greenseers – the wise men and leaders of the children of the forest who had magical abilities, including power over nature and greensight. So we think that means they count for this list…
And an honourable mention to:
- The killer trees in Poltergeist and Evil Dead (which we think were possess by evil forces rather than sentient in themselves)
- Audrey 2 in Little Shop Of Horrors, who was certainly sentient, but more or a plant than a tree.