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Rückkehr zum Land der Pinguine (Voyage au pole sud)
France 2023

Opening 15 Feb 2024

Directed by: Luc Jacquet
Writing credits:

A literal translation of the German title of this French film could be “Return to the Country of the Penguins.” Here Luc Jacquet starts his trip in Patagonia on the southern-most tip of Chile and Argentina. He takes a boat across the water to Antarctica and then walks through the winter landscape. It takes a while for the emperor penguins to appear—large groups at home in the wilderness. Jacquet does not force himself before the camera; he stays in the background always commenting on what we are watching. In one scene the movie screen is totally white and there is a small black dot moving towards the middle from the lower left corner. That is Luc walking through the snow. In the 83-minute film there are perhaps a total of seven minutes where we get a glimpse of another person—perhaps one of his team of three, or the captain of the boat.

Luc Jacquet visited Antarctica for the first time in 1991 at age twenty-three. His enthusiasm for the area drew him back more often, resulting in several films. Here we have the successor to the 2005 film Die Reise der Pinguine, (March of the Penguins) which won the 2006 Oscar for best documentary film. Now this excellent Part II could also easily win an Oscar. Perhaps it is unusual to film the environment in black and white, but here it’s perfect—the colors of snow as well as penguins. This is true art presented by the excellent photographer Christophe Graillot who films on foot, from the boat, and from the air. I learned a new word: “solastalgia,” which, according to Wikipedia, “describes a form of emotional or existential distress caused by environmental change.” Luc Jacquet says, “How many trips does one still have?” Perhaps we will learn more from his future experiences, but now we can definitely enjoy this one, which I saw in French with voice over and subtitles in German. (Becky Tan)

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