March of the Penguins

 I’m probably like a lot of people: I have a thing for penguins. I can go to the Central Park Zoo and
watch them swim around for a long time. It’s strangely comforting and I always leave with a smile. So I
approached the documentary
MARCH OF THE PENGUINS expecting to be entertained, and I certainly
wasn’t disappointed.

 Now, when the film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, it was in a very different form. There was an
entirely different musical underscore and the film included “dialogue” between some of the emperor penguins.
Well, all that was jettisoned in favor of new narration written by Jordan Roberts and delivered with warmth by
recent Oscar winner Morgan Freeman. The resulting film is an enjoyable and surprisingly moving tale of the
vicissitudes of nature.

 Annually, in the autumn, the emperor penguins make a trek to the breeding ground where each was born.
Trekking single file for several miles, over terrain of ice and snow, they eventually arrive at this spot and engage
in courtship rituals. Eventually, they pair off and mate, with the hopeful result of a single egg. When she delivers
the egg, the female transfers it to her mate who balances it on his feet and wraps the folds of his abdomen
around it. Then the male protects it from the elements while the female makes the return trip to the sea where
she’ll forage for and store up food for both the chick and her mate. After several months, if she’s managed
to survive and not be eaten by predators, she will return and reunite with her family.

 The film is gorgeously shot (sometimes under rather extreme conditions) by cinematographers Laurent
Chalet and Jerôme Maison. French filmmaker Luc Jacquet conceived the project (and wrote the original script
and narration). He has called the story of the penguins “one of the most beautiful love stories on Earth,” and
indeed, that very well may be the case. With
MARCH OF THE PENGUINS he has opened a view onto a
mysterious world peopled by amazing creatures.

                                         Rating:                     B+
                                         MPAA Rating:        G
                                         Running time:           80 mins.

                                                       Viewed at Magno Review One
©  2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.