March of the Penguins  

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

March of the Penguins
2005, on DVD, from the library.

You should know
There are few things on earth, if any, that are cuter than baby penguins. But you already knew that.

Sadly, the baby penguins, while appropriately adorable, were the most memorable part of the film. The story is that of penguin migration, the march of young adults from the feeding waters to the thickest, most solid part of the ice where they live. Here, there is something of a convention of penguins, who meet to mate and raise their young.

And there’s danger from starvation and predators, and eggs fail to hatch and chicks freeze to death. Parents who lose their young mourn, and then leave the breeding ground to return to their childfree lives. The babies that make it through their infancy are then left to make it on their own. They won’t breed for a few more years, and it’s likely their parents won’t survive long enough to see them at the breeding ground. Add in the fact that penguins are monogamous, but only for one season at a time, and that means that each family, as close and caring as it is, only exists for a few months.

Morgan Freeman’s narration – at least in the American version, I can’t comment on the original French – brings the perfect amount of authority to the narrative. Unfortunately, that authority comes with a sense of calm that does not underscore the drama; instead it almost downplays it. As interesting as the visuals and narrative were, the film still failed to hold my attention the way I had expected. If you’re having game night and want a film on for entertaining background noise, this is the way to go. If you want something that will captivate your attention and really engage you for two hours, though, you might want to pass.

Worth a view
Though it’s not the most engrossing film I’ve ever seen, it entertained and informed. And there’s nothing cuter than a baby penguin.

The rest of the Internet
The IMDb page.
The Wikipedia page.
Great reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.
Roger Ebert reflects on penguins.
An interview with the director at National Geographic News.
The Onion has an editorial.
Penguins and Intelligent Design.
An enthusiastic review at Instacritic.
SenseList offers 9 Films Featuring Penguins.

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