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The Incredible March of the Penguins

I know, the idea of an entire movie about penguins doesn't excite most people, but having seen the film this weekend, I must say it is one of the best films I have seen in the last few years.

I first read about the making of the film back in early June, and put it on my to see list then, expecting to have to track it down in an independent theater on a Monday morning, but now that Warner Independent Pictures is distributing The March of the Penguins, I hear they are even running trailers on TV.

The film is cinematically beautiful, and moves at an enjoyable leisurely pace, striking a good balance between Morgan Freeman's narration and letting the images tell the story. With special effects, set design, and costumes by the creator Himself, March of the Penguins does not disappoint. My wife has been making penguine noises ever since!

Here is a brief synopsis

Each winter, alone in the pitiless ice deserts of Antarctica, deep in the most inhospitable terrain on Earth, a truly remarkable journey takes place as it has done for millennia. Emperor penguins in their thousands abandon the deep blue security of their ocean home and clamber onto the frozen ice to begin their long journey into a region so bleak, so extreme, it supports no other wildlife at this time of year. In single file, the penguins march blinded by blizzards, buffeted by gale force winds. Resolute, indomitable, driven by the overpowering urge to reproduce, to assure the survival of the species.

Guided by instinct, by the otherworldly radiance of the Southern Cross, they head unerringly for their traditional breeding ground where - after a ritual courtship of intricate dances and delicate maneuvering, accompanied by a cacophony of ecstatic song - they will pair off into monogamous couples and mate.

The days grow shorter, the weather ever more bitter. The females remain long enough only to lay a single egg. Once this is accomplished, exhausted by weeks without nourishment, they begin their return journey across the ice-field to the fish-filled seas. The journey is hazardous, and rapacious leopard seals a predatory threat. The male emperors are left behind to guard and hatch the precious eggs, which they cradle at all times on top of their feet. Subjected to subzero temperatures and the terrible trials of the polar winter, they too face great dangers.

After two long months during which the males eat nothing, the eggs begin to hatch. Once they have emerged into their ghostly white new world, the chicks can not survive for long on their fathers' limited food reserves. If their mothers are late returning from the ocean with food, the newly-hatched young will die.

Once the families are reunited, the roles reverse, the mothers remaining with their new young while their mates head, exhausted and starved, for the sea, and food. While the adults fish, the chicks face the ever-present threat of attack by prowling giant petrels. As the weather grows warmer and the ice floes finally begin to crack and melt, the adults will repeat their arduous journey countless times, marching many hundreds of miles over some of the most treacherous territory on Earth, until the chicks are ready to take their first faltering dive into the deep blue waters of the Antarctic.

Look for it at a theater near you!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 9, 2005 2:34 PM.

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