Directed by: Luc Jacquet
Premise: A documentary about the mating rituals of the Emperor Penguins in Antarctica.
What Works: March of the Penguins is very well put together. The filmmakers have successfully made a picture about a community, which is a very difficult thing to do, and then done it about animals at the end of the earth. The filmmakers have managed to capture animals in their own environment, not performing tricks or being part of an otherwise human narrative, and that is very special and unique. The human crew appears to have been able to minimize their impact on the subject matter and capture something very close to an objective documentary. The editing of the picture has assembled a narrative that is very streamlined and picks moments of both humor and sadness in the penguin’s journey.
What Doesn’t: The narration in the film ascribes human traits to the animals, especially love. While this helps the audience connect with the penguins, attributing human emotions to these animals is misplaced. The film might have been better off with less or no audio commentary and allowed the images to speak for themselves.
Bottom Line: March of the Penguins is a refreshing and entertaining picture. Even for people who know nothing about birds or do not really care about penguins, the film is very entertaining. Children will enjoy the humor of it and older audiences will be able to enjoy a film with animals that is not condescending.
Episode: #63 (August 7, 2005)