Friday, July 22, 2005

March Of The Penguins - Movie Review July 2005

This Movie was COOL!
March of the Penguins
(La arche de l'empereur)
By Madeline Bocaro

March of the Penguins is (literally – at eighty-five degrees below
zero!) a cool movie about Emperor penguins in Antarctica, and their
astonishing traditions and customs surrounding their strenuous mating
and reproductive rituals. After all is told, much mystery still remains
about these elegant, dignified feathered creatures in tuxedos.

The most refreshing thing about this film is that it is a serious
documentary, and that it has absolutely nothing to do with Hollywood.
No poor, unwitting animal is forced to speak with the voice of Whoopi
Goldberg nor Billy Crystal. There no animation, nor special effects.
There is no chase scene, nudity nor guns. This may sound boring, but it
is truly one of the most interesting films this year.

Nature and its landscape are the most beautiful movie set on earth, and
this remote, barren land of shimmering ice in Antarctica is seldom seen
by human eyes. The uniformity and solidarity as thousands of
earth-bound birds choreograph their march (as they’ve done for
centuries) in their very own Triumph Of The Will against storms, raging
winds and predators is striking. The monochromatic penguins against the
infinite white mountains of snow plod on their twenty day, seventy mile
journey, awkwardly yet determined to reach the site where they will
mate and procreate. Our priviliged sight of this enchanting spectacle
is breathtaking from all angles. The artful cinematography shines,
taking us up close to witness intimacy and affection, and far away to
view the smallness of life versus the vastness of the heavenly yet
severe terrain. The cameras and subjects seem to dance with each other
beautifully in classical movements, contrasting the harshness of the

Once their mate is chosen (narrator Morgan Freeman is unsure of the
criteria used in their choosing a mate, but it is most likely not by
looks!), the penguins are monogamous for a year. Human qualities such
as sensitivity, loyalty and emotion are unmistakable. They function as
a society. They bond, love and cry as a family unit. They respect and
protect each other. The dedicated dad warms the egg for months, while
the mom trods off again on the long journey back to the water where she
can feed and bring back nourishment for the chick, if it survives. When
she returns, dad is mighty hungry after four months of starvation, and
he must make the long journey to the sea with his empty belly. The
entire ritual is repeated again year after year, century after century.

This story leaves us with the biggest cliff-hanger of all. We are
compelled to wonder why these creatures live such a harsh, selfless
life on the same earth and at the same time that we are watching a
movie about them. The Emperor penguins’ instinct drives them to
persevere, reproduce and nurture, just as strongly as lemmings’
instinct to die. Hopefully, the money made from this film can be
donated to provide a shuttle service to bring the pooped penguins to
and from their remote destinations! And each of them deserves an
Academy award!


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