Published Jul 01, 2005Despite the fact that it can't fly, the penguin is hardly the laughing stock of the bird world (that seat is reserved for the vilest scum of the earth: the vagrant pigeon). Penguins are such fascinating and somewhat furtive creatures that French filmmaker Luc Jacquet chose to drag a film crew to the farthest southern part of the earth to capture their story.
March of the Penguins was originally a French-language documentary that chose to give the tuxedo-clad stars cute voices, dialogue and a soap opera-style narrative. Thankfully, Warner Independent has completely refurbished the film for Anglo audiences, removed the ridiculous human façade and roped in the always reliable Morgan Freeman to narrate their chronicles.
March begins, oddly enough, in March, where Emperor penguins from all over the South Pole, erm, march and slide (on their bellies, when they're tired) 70 or so miles to a meeting spot. Here their annual test of survival begins as the birds pair off in boy-girl couples (alas, none of the recent headline-stealing gay penguins were cast) and mate in what has to be one of the most beautiful and sensual lovemaking techniques of any living being.
Jacquet's footage of the romances, as well as the birds' remarkable survival methods in harsh conditions (the males huddling up to protect the eggs) and their surprisingly open emotions (the heartbreak of losing an egg to the frost), are truly mesmerising. Freeman's narration is also poignant, as he manages to draw all of the right emotions from the viewer with his spot-on tones and storytelling skills.
March is an extraordinary film that brings life to these waddling birds by telling their exhausting annual struggle to conceive and try their damnedest to raise an egg/chick in an environment that's even more cutthroat and dangerous than our own. Without a doubt, this is a film anyone of any age will fall in love with. (Warner Independent)