Jean-Luc Bizien signs a black and green thriller to denounce the ravages of deforestation

The Botanist, is the story of William Icard, an idealistic and passionate scientist who lives in an indigenous village in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. One morning, his family is attacked by a commando who burns everything in his path. Ten years later, the lawsuit filed by an environmental NGO against a consortium specializing in palm oil was abruptly stopped after the kidnapping of four members of the jury. The next day, these same jurors reappear on social media, just in the middle of the primary forest. They become the protagonists of a popular reality show among an audience that discovers the beauty of a magnificent but threatened nature. The operations are led by the mysterious botanist.

Published by Fayard Editions, The Botanist is a novel that had a surprising birth. If Jean-Luc Bizien is really the author, one is tempted to say that this ecological thriller was written with different hands or, in any case, with different brains. Three to be exact.


At the origin of this story, there are, in fact, two nature enthusiasts: the documentary filmmaker Luc Marescot and the director Guillaume Maidatchevsky. The former has produced more than eighty documentaries, including ten on forests, from Guyana to Borneo to the Congo. The latter is a specialist in wildlife, author of documentaries on animals and feature films included Isolation: An Odyssey in Lapland released in theaters in 2019.

Luc Marescot, the documentary filmmaker behind Le Botaniste, in an excerpt from the documentary

Very marked by his encounter with Francis Hallé, a botanist known for his work on primary forests, Luc Marescot began writing seventeen years ago the stage of The Botanist, a feature film for the cinema. An adventure in which his friend Guillaume Maidatchevsky embarked. While writing, Luc decides to make a documentary where he is staged to explain the steps to follow “Get a movie idea in orbit”.

This is how it will be born Green lung and red carpet, a 90-minute documentary, released in September 2021 on the big screen. We know Juliette Binoche, Edouard Baer, ​​Jacques Perrin, Antoine de Maximy and even Nicolas Hulot. The documentary has seen the light, but not the work of fiction, at least for now …

Closely linked to his project, Luc Marescot and Guillaume Maidatchevsky have therefore decided to bring this story to life in another way by entrusting its script to Jean-Luc Bizien. This former teacher left national education in 2001 to devote himself to writing. Author of thrillers, science fiction novels, fantasy novels, children’s novels and playbooks, he has received numerous awards: the Gérardmer Fantastic’Arts Award, the Adventure Novel Award, the Black Lion Prize and the Blood Ink Prize 2016 and the Dora- 2021. Suárez Prize.

Luc i Guillaume’s approach did not surprise the novelist: “Cinema is complicated because it’s a pharaonic theme. We’re talking millions and millions of dollars because the producers of this kind of film are often American..

Finally, the book is easier. It costs much less. Of course, we reach people less quickly but more deeply.

Jean-Luc Bizien


Guillaume Maidatchevsky (left), co-writer of the Botanist and novelist Jean-Luc Bizien (right).  (S. Lemaire / France Televisions)

To touch deeply is in this case to alert readers to the real and serious threats that weigh on primary forests, also called virgin forests. These rich ecosystems are rthey have been free from any human activity during their existence. But we know that they are increasingly threatened by mass deforestation.

A reality that revolts Guillaume Maidatchevsky. For him, imagine a somewhat “extreme” scenario as The Botanistit is a way of asking the public about the ecological emergency. Each year is the equivalent of the surface of Italy [plus de 300 000 km², NDLR] which disappears into the woods. But I’m tired of saying numbers with nice words and ‘Let’s save nature!’

People don’t care, these kinds of talks have become so commonplace. You have to react, you have to surprise.

Guillem Maidatetxevski

Screenwriter and director

After the publication of Botanist in Fayard, this story can finally become a film with Leonardo Di Caprio in the role of the botanist. It is in any case the wish of Luc Marescot. He, who has made dozens of documentaries, however, realizes the power of cinema, as he explains on the website of the association of young journalists for nature and ecology: “A documentary is often about arguments, but we are less convinced by arguments than by emotions. Emotions are what make us great. And cinema has more strength and power when it comes to emotions. And it allows, through a story, the suspense, the twists, the love stories, to attract a much wider audience than the restricted audience of the documentary..

The cover of Jean-Luc Bizien's novel Le Botaniste published by Fayard.  (Fayard.)

“The Botanist” by Jean-Luc Bizien, adapted from the script by Luc Marescot and Guillaume Maidatchevsky – Fayard Editions – 464 pages – € 19.50

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