At the end of each Antarctic summer, the emperor penguins of the South Pole journey to their traditional breeding grounds in a fascinating mating ritual that is captured in this documentary by intrepid filmmaker Luc Jacquet. The journey across frozen tundra proves to be the simplest part of the ritual, as after the egg is hatched, the female must delicately transfer it to the male and make her way back to the distant sea to nourish herself and bring back food to her newborn chick. Written by
If you make the effort to catch March of the Penguins, you'll be predictably pleased for the simple fact that if it's penguins you want to see it's penguins you're going to get. Beaucoups de penguins. And you will learn plenty about these noble survivors of the coldest place on earth. If it's Danny DeVito or Burgess Meredith you came to see, you are quite off the mark. The Emperor Penguins of Antarctica survive and perpetuate their species in a frozen and surreal environment driven by instincts developed over centuries. They have mostly monogamous relationships and in the midst of this can recognize one another's 'voices'. These relationships help to organize survival. We get seemingly impossible and privileged views of their long marches across barren landscapes, complex rituals of protecting of fragile eggs in 160 mph winds, huddled in huge packs against the cold, males and females sharing food foraging duties, and chubby birds diving to great depths for fish. It's a remarkable system of survival. The French filmmakers shot on super 16mm film for one year (with 120 hours of images), which is a whole winter cycle for the emperor. They saw none of the images as they progressed. Nobody left until it was done and director as LUC JACQUET SAYS; "It took a year to recover. Re-entry is a long process." The result is, no doubt, some the most remarkable footage ever filmed on the subject. What they do, of course, to reel in their audience is to anthropomorphize these creatures. Like the recent "Parrots of Telegraph Hill" we see the penguins take on the attributes of 'love' and 'caring'. The baby penguins toddle along just like little people, except that they do so braving extreme minus degree temperatures. Miles of these cute birds march across landscapes like little wind up toys in a John Ford snow desert. The story is assisted by cloying music and narration, and the dulcet tones of the ubiquitous Morgan Freeman. But any criticism of the manipulative aspects of the film would be irrelevant in the face of the achievement. These are stunning images beautifully assembled to serve a remarkable story. If your going to get the paying public into a nature flick, this is the way to do it.
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