March of the Penguins instantly qualifies as a wildlife classic, taking its place among other extraordinary films like Microcosmos and Winged Migration. French filmmaker Luc Jacquet and his devoted crew endured a full year... more » of extreme conditions in Antarctica to capture the life cycle of Emperor penguins on film, and their diligence is evident in every striking frame of this 80-minute documentary. Narrated in soothing tones by Morgan Freeman, the film focuses on a colony of hundreds of Emperors as they return, in a single-file march of 70 miles or more, to their frozen breeding ground, far inland from the oceans where they thrive. At times dramatic, suspenseful, mischievous and just plain funny, the film conveys the intensity of the penguins' breeding cycle, and their treacherous task of protecting eggs and hatchlings in temperatures as low as 128 degrees below zero. There is some brief mating-ritual violence and sad moments of loss, but March of the Penguins remains family-friendly throughout, and kids especially will enjoy the Antarctic blue-ice vistas and the playful, waddling appeal of the penguins, who can be slapstick clumsy or magnificently graceful, depending on the circumstances. A marvel of wildlife cinematography, this unique film offers a front-row seat to these amazing creatures, balancing just enough scientific information with the entertaining visuals. --Jeff Shannon« less
A.Trendl HungarianBookstore.com | Glen Ellyn, IL USA | 09/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I chose to see "March of the Penguins" as a diversion to a 100+ degree day, and saw that cold weather is worse than hot weather. Now, in the brisk part of autumn, it still holds up.
Penguins from several areas of Antarctica converge on land, safe from predators and the ebbing ice shelf. They are there to mate, birth, and care for their chick.
Monogamous for that year, penguins pair up and the mother lays an egg.
The mother dashes off back to the sea, which, thanks to the winter and new ice, is as far as 70 miles. She's starving, having lost one-third of her weight in laying the egg. The trip is long, and she's not fast. Hungry seals await them, some penguins lose their way, and some are too exhausted to continue.
Well-fed, full of food for her chick, she returns, and the father makes the same trip so he can eat. The father stayed behind to incubate the egg, and protect the new chick. He has lost one half of his weight.
The pair trade places a few more times as winter plods on. With temperatures 80 below zero, and winds up to 125, I felt cold just watching. The penguins huddle to keep warm, rotating which must do outside duty.
Morgan Freeman narrates. His voice does not overcome the story. Better written than any documentary I have ever seen, Freeman respects the script. Having never seen a documentary in a theater before, I was impressed at how well it worked on the big screen.
There is no plot, even though there is a beginning and an end. Unlike many documentaries, it does not detail the intricacies of eating, mate choosing, or science of penguin living. It is more about watching the arduous life cycle, with some explaining what we are watching.
The camera works captures the cold -- the shivering penguins, the snow blowing like dust over the long line of marching penguins. It reminded me of movies about Siberia, showing Soviets living in a frozen, cold natural prison.
This isn't a cute animal movie. Tender children might be saddened to see the eggs and chicks freezing, and could be quite frightened when the vicious seals overtake swimming penguins.
Now, with the ever-funny Bugs Bunny in "8 Ball Bunny," the kid-factor increases. Still, even as Bugs graces your home viewing experience, be careful with more impressionable children and the feature documentary.
Another DVD feature: Rodney the Penguin assists in "Crittercam: Emperor Penguins," as we learn how some of the complex videography was really shot.
I fully recommend "March of the Penguins."
Anthony Trendl editor, HungarianBookstore.com"
Little Miss Cutey | Melbourne, Australia | 09/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Morgan Freeman narrates this beautiful, moving, sometimes sad, often beautiful documentary (that actually does well on the big screen). There are no big stars in this, just thousands of the cutest most beautiful little guys you could think of. They are amazing animals and this depicts the life cycle of them and the way they live facing brutally cold conditions, attacks by seals, and the heartbreak they suffer (like humans) when chicks die or are taken from them. This is brilliant and unlike any other documentary I've seen. It captivated me from start to end and it's a must see. Listening to Morgan Freemans soothing voice is so pleasant and he was easily the best choice to narrate this. Go see this. I highly, highly recommend it."
Touching and Profound
Edward Tsai | New York, NY United States | 11/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What I love about nature documentaries, and "March of the Penguins" does so well, is that it gives us humans a glimpse into the divine order of things and the nature of life itself. Tracing the story of a colony of emperor penguins for one breeding season only, the movie touches upon profound struggle to leave progeny for the next generation that recurs year after year for these animals. I'm not sure, but I have not seen a documentary of these penguins during the dead of winter during a brutal blizzard. That alone was awe inspiring. A touching and profound movie on many levels, asethically and spiritually. Well done."
Great for all ages
TOPJOB7 | Colorado | 11/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Excellent cinematography, nice story/narration.
This movie follows the emperor penguins through a mating season, showing the hardships they deal with and the techniques they use to survive these challenges.
They obviously went out of their way to make it suitable for all, avoiding lingering on anything that might disturb children - we brought children ages 1, 3, 5, 7, and 8, and none were upset by anything. For example, they show a predator bird chasing baby penguins, and all get away except one, and they cut away after it is caught but before it is killed. There is also a short scene of a seal swimming around looking for a penguin, and later you see it in the distance with a penguin in its mouth.
I'm definitely opposed to exposing children to anything inappropriate (which is almost every movie these days), but personally think the little exposure here can only be healthy rather than harmful. If a child is old enough to understand a penguin got eaten, I think they are old enough to learn that yes, animals are sometimes supposed to eat other animals. This is about as gentle an introduction to that that I can imagine.
Most of the scenes are penguins interacting with each other, nurturing the little ones, huddling together, etc.
It is light on narration - not a lot of detail/depth. The director lets the penguins do their thing for the camera. The soundtrack was well done, complementing the movie rather than overpowering or dominating it. In fact, I hardly noticed it most of the time I was so busy watching the scenery.
I also appreciated that they didn't put in a lot of far-fetched speculation or philosophical heavy-handedness such as many nature films do by trying to insist that everything is explained by evolution, or using every opportunity to attack mankind as evil. This film did neither - it just stuck to the story, informing rather than imposing on the viewer.
It was also fairly short (about 1:30 or so) so is great for even the littlest ones."
Wonderful movie with a misleading advertising campaign
calvinnme | 12/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I really enjoyed this high-quality film about the lifecycle of the emperor penguin. However, I believe this summer's advertising campaign was somewhat intentionally misleading. The cute pictures and even cuter lullaby-like music accompanying the TV ads would lead you to believe that you would be safe taking a kindergartener to this film. Since the film accurately and starkly portrays the deaths that befall these creatures, I can't say that viewing by extremely young children is such a good idea. Instead, the level of violence on this film, although realistic and therefore not excessive, is more along the lines of what you would see on "When Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth" on the Discovery Channel. Thus, probably anyone over the age of 10 can take the death of these creatures in context and enjoy the film. That being said, it is great to see Hollywood put out such a high quality film and I agree with all of the other reviewers that Morgan Freeman did a five star job of narrating the movie. I hope that the movie's success motivates the motion picture industry to produce more intelligent films like this one that depict the animal life around us and understand that audiences are capable of appreciating and understanding films that do not involve car chases, explosions, bad remakes of 60's sitcoms, and lifesize robots whose limbs come with machine-gun attachments."