The Road Taken
A film by Emma Woods
This short film is based on Robert Frost’s well-known poem, The Road Not Taken - a poem about the important choices in life. By changing two words, and by changing its title to The Road Taken, I have transformed the poem into one which looks back on a particular decision with optimism, rather than stoical regret.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And given I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a smile
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Broadly speaking, the film outlines the choice between environmental protection and destruction, and represents two parallel journeys.
The first journey concerns the fate of the forests in Madagascar’s Ivohibe district. On one hand, these forests have experienced, and continue to experience, significant pressure from man: they are felled in an unsustainable manner, primarily for firewood and construction timber. On the other hand, however, WWF is working to restore Ivohibe’s forests, by establishing tree nurseries and promoting reforestation.
The poem’s first stanza outlines a choice which might face anyone living in the Ivohibe district, and which faces Madagascar as a country: whether to protect or destroy the forest.
In the second stanza, the decision is made to pursue the less commonly trodden route towards forest protection. This decision leads to a growing interest in, and support for, Madagascar’s environmental movement.
The third stanza acknowledges a potential similarity between the two seemingly opposite roads of cutting down the forest and acting to protect it. It is possible that the distinction between these two options has become blurred, since both represent the avoidance of one of Madagascar’s greatest evils: slash-and-burn agriculture, known as ‘tavy’. This stanza also acknowledges the fact that pursuing either forest protection or destruction will inevitably lead to a lifetime devoted to that particular behaviour.
The fourth and final stanza looks back optimistically on the decision to follow the road towards forest protection. It also highlights the fact that any one person’s decision can make a significant difference - in this case a positive one - to a country’s forests and environmental future.
The second journey portrayed in this film is a personal and more subtle one, concerning my own involvement in conservation. At a crucial point in my life, I took the decision to follow up my Batchelor’s degree in Biological Sciences with a Master’s degree in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management. This decision has already had a considerable impact on my life, not least by leading me to spend three months as a volunteer for WWF in Madagascar. The photos used in this film were taken between May and August 2010, and represent a snapshot of my many varied experiences in this unique country; a snapshot of where one important decision led me.