Anthony's Film Review

March of the Penguins (2005)

A beautifully shot nature documentary about survival in a desolate land...

There is one type of film that I just love no matter what: the nature documentary. Part of it is that very little human creation is necessary. In other words, there is no need to write a script or get the animals to do certain things. All the filmmaker needs to do is to capture the animals and their way of life as they are. As long as the cinematography and the narration are not sub-par, the nature documentary is the type of film that is rarely of poor quality. That's why I enjoy nature documentaries, not to mention that I also love all kinds of animals.

My thoughts about March of the Penguins, a documentary from France that depicts emperor penguins in Antarctica, should be no surprise. It's an enjoyable piece of work, and it's one that anyone around the world can enjoy. With narrators in different languages depending on where the film is released (including actor Morgan Freeman for the English translation), there is, without a doubt, universal appeal with March of the Penguins. So instead of talking about the film's quality, I'll just give you an idea of what the film shows.

Essentially, March of the Penguins focuses on a single life cycle of emperor penguins. The male penguins have to make a very long trek across the ice to find their mates. After the females are impregnated, they each lay an egg. But because the females devote so much energy to producing offspring, they have to eat. That means the males are the ones to protect the eggs from the cold by covering them with their own bottoms. They have to wait a long time without eating until the females return.

If there's one thing I took away from this film, it's an appreciation of the dangers these penguins face. I now understand that these animals are not always comfortable in their surroundings, as much as Antarctica is their home. Winters there can be as cold as 80 degrees below zero WITHOUT the wind chill factor. Just watch the scene where the male penguins are crowded together to maintain warmth and you'll see how hard it is. Also, if the eggs are inadvertently exposed to the cold for just a couple of seconds, they will freeze, killing the offspring inside. As for the female penguins, they do face predators, like sea lions, while trying to find food themselves. (But later, when the chicks hatch, they are just so cute to watch and definitely worth the wait.)

It's rather remarkable to see that a nature documentary like March of the Penguins was distributed in movie theaters for the mainstream audience. It wasn't something that was shown only on television to a select audience. After seeing it, I can't help but wonder why movie theaters don't do this more often. I wouldn't mind paying the price of admission just to see a nature documentary. Like I said, there really is something special about the genre. If a film does nothing more than capture the beauty of the natural world, then it's easily something worth seeing.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about March of the Penguins, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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