March of the Penguins – 2 Stars (Average)
March of the Penguins is an Academy Award-winning documentary film of the Emperor Penguin, the only living species that still remains in the Antarctic (South Pole) with its temperatures of minus 80 degrees and 100-mile-per-hour winds, not to mention the unbelievably frigid Antarctic waters.
This is a wonderful film about birds in nature that we would never see were it not for Luc Jacquet, the award-winning French director/photographer who spent a year filming this epic creation in near inhuman conditions.
Emperor Penguins get our attention because of their look and walk. These large, flightless seabirds with black upper parts and white under parts have wings developed into flippers for swimming under water.
These Emperor Penguins follow a brutal and yet loving life of destiny.
1) Penguins are monogamous within each breeding season, during the summer their breeding grounds are close to the open water where they can feed. When winter sets in, the ice cap pushes the open sea out 70 miles.
2) After breeding, the female lays a single egg and transfers the embryo to the feet of the male to protect it from exposure to the elements.
3) The male tends to the egg while the female begins a 70-mile trek back to the open sea to feed and store up extra food for the chick for her return trip.
4) When the female leaves she has not eaten in two months and has lost a third of her body weight.
5) The chick’s future fight for its life begins as the males huddle together for warmth and incubate the single egg. They endure minus 80-degree temperatures and 100-mile-per-hour winds and their only source of water is snow that falls on the breeding grounds.
6) By the time the female makes the march to the sea and back, the male has not eaten in four months and has lost half his body weight.
7) When and if the female returns the males set out on their 70-mile march back to the sea. The female takes over care of the new chick.
8) Amazingly, either parent can identify their chick among hundreds of others by its unique call.
9) Many parents die on the trip to the sea and back as they must endure predators such as the Leopard Seal as well as the brutal weather.
10) Those Emperor Penguin parents who can survive until spring return to the sea and the chicks are left to fend for themselves.
If a cat has 9 lives then an Emperor Penguin must have 10. There are some very touching scenes in this film where the love of a parent for a child is heartwarming. We humans are sometimes more intent on trying to conquer nature than appreciate its lessons in life. We would do well to treat our young with the same love, courage and discipline that the Emperor Penguins show for their young.
Morgan Freeman narrates this incredible saga which was written by Luc Jacquet and Michel Fessler and co-produced by Bonne Pioche and the National Geographic Society. The spectacular success of March of the Penguins in 2005 benefited “Happy Feet”, the 2006 animated film about penguins which was in production when March of the Penguins was released.
March of the Penguins is a great film for adults and mature children to watch. The film appears to be slow in developing because of its subject matter and many children may not be able to set through its 85-minute run time. In addition to its Oscar, March of the Penguins picked up another 10 wins and 10 nominations for its excellent and heroic filmmaking.
Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley
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