Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Movie Review: "March Of The Penguins" (2005)

Danny Devito as the father penguinI love documentaries. I have a long standing dream of being a documentary presentor. I have always expressed this whenever I am being interviewed for a job or a promotion whenever they ask me "What Is your dream job?". I don't know, maybe its the adventure, the sense of escape, the exotic food. The film element that binds all of these things together. Everything about documentary making just appeals to me.

Very few documentaries have broken through the mainstream market. The highest grossing documentary to date is Michael Moore's love letter to President Bush, Farenheit 9/11. The second highest would be March Of The Penguins.
For a movie that has a very modest budget, no hired actors (they couldn't get Danny Devito, heheh), and not very much color (the only color you really see is white and blue), March Of The Penguins has exceeded everyone's expectations, and quite possibly even the filmmakers'.

The story is based on a process that has played over and over every year for thousands of years, which only a few people get to witness. The Emperor Penguin is the only living creature left living in the South Pole and it continues to dwell in this icy wasteland solely because it has been like that for centuries. Their march starts from the edges of the ice sheet deep into the center of the pole using nothing but their short feet (and sometimes on their solf slidey bellies, man I wish I could do that). They meet their mate in their little 'convention' of sorts begin to mate.

The amazing camera wok courtesy of director Luc Jaquet makes these penguins look just like us. You can feel their joy and excitement as well as their sorrow. There are a couple of scenes so emotionally intense tha I couldn't help but look away,most of which involving the death of a baby penguin, such as the freezing of an egg as it was exposed to the freezing cold and a little one being chased down by a seagull. What breaks your heart is you know you couldn't do anything about it even if you were there yourself lest you interfere whith a centuries old process of adaptation. It miust have been very hard for the filmmakers to just stand there and helplessly look at all the tragedy unfolding. But we are always reminded by the reassuring voice of Morgan Freeman, that this is "non-negotiable" and but natural to the cycle of the lives of these amazing creatures.

It is obvious that to best enjoy this movie, you have to see it in the theater. As I saw this movie in a small 14", I couldn't help but wonder how cool all the icebergs and the marching penguins would look like in a 20 foot screen. Otherwise it would look just like a National Geographic special.

Hopefully this gets a local release. Its a good family-oriented movie, but be warned. The scenes involving the natural course of death and predator-prey relationships may have an emotional impact on the kids, they may not be as graphic as a lion eating an antelope's carcass, its just that you see the difficulty of the process these animals go through to bring forth life that any death associated is a stab to the heart.

A small movie worthy of praise and well worth your 85 minutes.

Rocketboy's Rating: *****(5 out of 5)


Anonymous atoy said...

i'm hearing a lot good reviews about this documentary. i will add it on my "to see" list.

6:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess you would not be interested in playing this then.

The Wylmeister

2:17 AM


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