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:: March Of The Penguins (Marche de l'empereur, La)

Picture a film based in the sub-zero depths of Antarctica that tells the story of love and loss, betrayal and hardships and you will begin to have small idea of what Luc Jacquet’s Academy Award-winning documentary ‘March of the Penguins’ is about. It is hard to imagine that one could fit all of this in a documentary, but that is exactly what this unique filmmaker has achieved.

‘March of the Penguins’ isn’t the normal, run-of-the mill type of documentary. The US narrator Morgan Freeman begins the journey into the life of the resilient Emperor Penguin by informing the audience, it is a story of love. But the journey turns out to be much more than that. It begins as the penguins start their trail out of the somewhat safe ocean into the harsh climates of lonely Antarctica. There are extreme blizzards and the older birds pass away even before they reach their mating grounds. The search for the mate is interesting and the mating scenes even more so. Their relationships are monogamous and the film portrays a beautiful intimacy between the pairs. The hike across Antarctica is innate and the penguins live solely for the survival of their newborn chicks.

Although it is a story, it is also educational. Once the Emperor Penguins have their egg, the females waddle all the way back to sea to gather food for when the chicks are born. The males are the ones who look after the egg until the young penguins hatch. This is a phase that lasts for months, all the while the males balancing the delicate little egg on their toes and going without even a crumb of food the whole time. It is almost unbelievable that any young chicks survive at all, especially in the conditions that they are put through. But survive some do and the story goes on. And on. And so on.

Jacquet has succeeded in giving this one-of-a-kind documentary an emotional edge, but the story seems to waiver in and out too much on the borders of documentary/fiction movie, to the point of the viewer wondering which it is.

March of the Penguins is a beautiful story and educational as well. It shows the resilience of the amazing Emperor Penguin and the unstoppable bleakness and harsh nature of Antarctica. It perhaps though attempts too much and tends to get repetitive in the story. The penguins live, the penguins die. The Penguins live, the penguins die. Despite this it was an interesting and unique attempt in telling the instinctive journey of this bird. Families will enjoy March of the Penguins because it is entertaining and informing, but watch out for the scenes of the dead baby penguins.