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Die Reise Der Pinguine 2 (March of the Penguins, L'empereur)
France 2017

Opening 2 Nov 2017

Directed by: Luc Jacquet
Writing credits:

Embracing nature’s mysteries and spectacular beauty, Luc Jacquet returns with Die Reise Der Pinguine 2 (L'empereur). Twelve years ago, director Jacquet’s Oscar®-winning documentary introduced filmgoers to Antarctica’s emperor penguins: how they live, and survive. Pinguine 2 focuses on one couple’s courtship, mating, and their ensuing adventure raising a chick. Jacquet humanizes the birds through the chick’s 45-year-old elder reminiscing (Udo Wachtveitl) that includes flashbacks, suspense, and perilous situations, e.g. a southern giant petrel. When the young’un embarks on his journey into the realm of the unknown, his compass is a powerful inborn instinct, and friends.

Equally, the narrative is a commentary about the penguins rudimentary lifestyle: being sociable and monogamous; trekking up to five days (120 km/75 miles) to breeding colonies where as many as 7,000 penguins gather; challenges of incubating the egg (inland −65 °C/−85 °F), e.g. 4-seconds out of the pouch the chick dies; how many months penguins can survive without eating, and the extensiveness of emperors diving prowess – up to 20-minutes underwater. Cyrille Aufort’s wonderfully versatile music accompanies the narrative.

Laurent Ballesta and Yanick Gentil dive up to 70 meters (almost 1/2 mile) deep in water temperatures from -1.8 °C (28.76 °F) to capture a succession of breathtaking, unforgettable underwater shots. This is where the lumbering, shuffling waddlers are in their element, flying with grace, elegance and splendor through layers of ice or into deep darkness with vegetation and other critters.

Jerome Bouvier, Yanick Gentil, Luc Jacquet, Laurent Chalet, Jerome Maison, shooting on 4K, visually accompany the narrative with impeccable, impressive cinematography: extreme close-ups (count the number of water-proof feathers), and slow-motion/wide shots. Samy Bardet, François Fayard and Thierry Lebon’s awesome sound design pick up distinctive characteristic details as if each penguin wears a mic that Charlene Gravel and Ange-Marie Revel concisely edit – we want to see more.

It requires five years before a young emperor penguin has the competency of its elder, and generally their lifespan is twenty-years. So why did Jacquet overlook mentioning concern for the birds natural habitat’s changing climate? “A Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution study in January 2009 found that emperor penguins could be pushed to the brink of extinction by the year 2100 due to global climate change.” (Wikipedia) Nevertheless, audiences are in for an enthralling treat, while marveling at earth’s present-day wonders. (Marinell Haegelin)

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