March of the Penguins is nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the upcoming Academy Awards. It is a short 85-minute film narrated beautifully by Morgan Freeman. Rated G, it is appropriate for the whole family.
The emperor penguins that live in Antarctica are creatures of instinct. They march up to 70 miles inland every year in order to mate at the breeding grounds that have been their annual destination for centuries and beyond.
The film is unique in that it shows in close-ups how these penguins care for the egg that will quickly freeze if it has prolonged contact with the ice. The fathers have to shelter the egg in a sort of nest atop their feet, warmed by the fat of their bellies, while the mothers march back to the sea to eat.
Once the mothers are fattened up again, they return and take over. The baby penguins by now have hatched and need the mothers’ food to survive. The fathers return to the sea to eat, and the parents take turns doing these for weeks.
Antarctica is a desolate place, and dangerous even for the penguins. It made me think about the mysterious world we live in, and if there is a purpose in animal behavior beyond reproduction. The narration suggests that the penguins perform these rituals and bear their young, and then care for them under these dire circumstances out of love. Is this just anthropomorphizing that humans tend to do with animals and their actions? Tell me what your philosophy on this is.
The music is very fitting for the film, and I appreciated seeing briefly at the end, footage of the brave souls that went to Antarctica to film the penguins. Another good film I reviewed some time ago is Winged Migration, and I actually liked that film better, and is the one I’d watch over again. It has more incredible scenery and variety of avian species, whereas March of the Penguins of course focuses on one particular species. It is a good film though, and the whole family will enjoy it.