Opening 13 Oct 2005
March of the Penguins is an unusual movie: it is a documentary with a plot like a fictional feature film whose main “actors” are emperor penguins. March follows a colony of emperor penguins over the course of a year, showing their mating and child-rearing rituals and incredible resilience. Each summer, the penguins emerge from their deep sea home and march, single file much of the time, over 70 miles inland to their breeding ground. There, they pair off into couples and mate. About two months later, each female lays a single egg, which she must keep balanced on top of her feet (so as not to touch the ground and freeze), then transfer to the feet of her partner. For the next several months, the partners take turns marching back and forth to the ocean to feed, braving the deadly cold winds and snow of the Antarctic winter.
French director Luc Jacquet and his crew spent four grueling years making this film, including 12 months of completely isolated filming in Antarctica. The result is an amazingly touching drama, narrated in the English-language release by Morgan Freeman, which truly draws viewers in and makes them feel like they are living among the penguins. The photography features not only hauntingly beautiful landscapes but also incredibly intimate footage of the penguins both above and below the water. However, there are some downsides – namely, the film drags in several places, and the lingering question of why this National Geographic-like documentary made it to the big screen when others never make it past the small screen. But overall, this is an educational documentary for all ages worth marching to the theater to see. (Kirsten Greco)