Working in the environmental industry, perks tend to be few and far between. In August however, I received an invitation to a movie depicting the quest of a young woman to effect environmental change by showing people how to create a garden that captures the wild. Intrigued at the possibility of a movie that might appeal to both environmental enthusiasts and general cinema-goers, I acquired a ticket and had high hopes for a movie about nature that might actually spark some passion in people.
Dare To Be Wild is based on the inspirational true story of Irish girl Mary Reynolds (played by Emma Greenwell) who dreams of winning a gold medal at the prestigious Chelsea flower show. Don’t know an oak tree from a daisy? Don’t let that put you off. This movie is much more than a gardening show. It follows Mary on her challenging journey from Ireland to Africa to London to achieve her dreams of inspiring people to reconnect with the wild through their very own gardens. On her journey she meets Christy (Tom Hughes) and a love story plays out that sees Mary follow Christy to Ethiopia where he has his own challenges working on a planting scheme to halt desertification.
This movie is what the environment needs. Conservation, wildlife, the environment, nature… it has all become too detached from the general public. It’s seen as something that scientists in lab coats and treehuggers with long beards and no shoes are involved with and for far too many people it’s just a nice background for a selfie. We need to bridge the connection between people and the natural world. This movie helps to build this bridge in two ways.
Firstly, the movie is not a hard-hitting documentary about the environment. We need those documentaries; they’re essential and usually enjoyable. This movie is also essential and enjoyable, but it more subtly emphasises the importance and beauty of the natural world while also including notes of romance, travel and adventure. In this way you do not feel as though you are signing up to a 90 minute lecture on why you should let your garden grow wild. Instead, you enjoy a movie with emotion and adventure, but at the same time, are infused with a respect for, and an interest in, bringing wilderness into your garden. This does not limit the movie audience to gardeners or environmentalists, but to anyone who enjoys partaking in the challenges, struggles and triumphs of a determined character’s journey to achieve her dreams and make a difference.
Secondly, there’s the garden itself. This movie shows us why wild is good. Less perfect lawns and more variety in native flowers and flowering trees is what we need. The very concept that Mary Reynolds displays in her Celtic Sanctuary design is one that is slowly being embraced around our country. While we might not all be able to uproot century-old hawthorn trees and transplant them to our gardens, there are plenty of aspects of her garden design that we can mirror in our own. If people are able to reconnect with the wild right in their own back gardens then hopefully this might foster a love for nature that would ultimately lead to better protection of it. Not to mention the unmistakable benefits a garden full of wildflowers and blooming trees has on bees, butterflies, birds and other wildlife.
I was right to have high hopes for this movie. It manages to inspire and ignite an interest in protecting the wild in our very own gardens while simultaneously providing a very enjoyable movie experience as you travel on the journey of the likeable Mary Reynolds. The acting is strong and the cinematography is super, with many spectacular wild nature shots. It is refreshing to have a movie with an environmental theme that doesn’t isolate audience members who aren’t particularly environmentally minded. After talking to other audience members I know I wasn’t the only person to have thoroughly enjoyed it. As is quoted in the movie “let’s throw a lifeline to the wilderness,” I hope that this movie will inspire viewers to enhance the nature in their very own gardens and dare to be wild.
Dare To Be Wild is in Irish cinemas from September 23rd. The movie was a winner of the Dublin International Film Festival Audience Award. View the trailer here:
Thank you to Jennifer Magee of Kate Bowe PR for access to the official film images and invitation to the screening of Dare To Be Wild.