March of the Penguins

March of the Penguins (2005) movie poster

(2005) dir. Luc Jacquet
viewed: 11/28/2005

It’s that penguin movie that everyone was talking about for so long. I never got around to seeing it in the theaters, which in a way is good because I was going to take my four year old son to see it and I think it would have been too slow for him.

It’s beautifully filmed and quite compelling, in its own way. The lives of Antartica’s emperor penguins is tough and fascinating. Actually, I thought that their lives were amazingly boring. They huddle around in a mass in the bitter depth of Antartican winter not eating or doing much but waddling about for months at a time. It’s not a good life being a mating emperor penguin.

The film is good, but not great. The Morgan Freeman voiceover narration highly anthropomorphizes the animals, which has its benefits and its downsides. I mean, it’s cute the way that the mating pairs lean together and one can easily project a humanized image of love on the figures, but isn’t it a bit much to presume that? Certainly the film doesn’t try to argue the fact that the animals feel emotion. They do mate for the year in a very dedicated fashion, but once they lose an egg, it’s pretty much all over. Not to say it isn’t perhaps one of the most human things of all to anthropomorphize. But then again, that is the human element of this film.

It’s certainly worth seeing, and it is interesting, but it’s ultimately no great piece of cinema.

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