Movie-Hype00637 – MARCH OF THE PENGUINS
The thing to do when it comes to Valentine’s Day (or the weekend before) is to rent a romantic movie to watch with your woman. You may not want to do it, but it will pay off, since it makes her so happy. (Yeah…that’s the only reason you do it.)
Well, you may not see a more romantic movie this year than MARCH OF THE PENGUINS
Nominated for Best Documentary, the trim 82 minute film shows the courting, mating and birthing (or possibly hatching) habits of the Emperor Penguins in
As a documentary, I have to say I didn’t learn much. Yes, the penguins go through an ordeal, but is it any more than any other animal in the wild—especially in extreme conditions—go through? I’m not sure. The film offers no perspective or “larger picture” aspect. A good documentary not only shows the “what” but supplies—or at least tries to hint at—the “why.”
But you’ll notice I’m not recommending the film as a Doc, but as a Romance. That’s because the pitch-perfect narration (supplied by Morgan Freeman, who really should narrate everything ever) gives us the struggle of male and female penguin in the most human of terms.
Your girlfriend—and possibly even you—will melt at the seeming love and tenderness displayed by the penguins when they meet up with each other, going so far as to “neck.” The ordeal that begins once the egg hatches also seems incredible; both parents go repeatedly without food—sometimes for months at a time—to waddle back and forth over 70 miles of ice all to help this egg.
Hyperion’s Rating System
Suspension of Disbelief: It’s a documentary, so one wants to say zero, but you still wonder if they director ever saw the penguins walking normally or (heavens!) flying and yelled, “Cut! Will you idiots stop it! You’re going to ruin the whole set up you’ve got going!!!)
Genre Grade: Documentary, and since it’s Oscar-nominated, I won’t relegate it to Nature Doc. MARCH OF PENGUINS is ten times better than propaganda like 2003 Oscar winner BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE and the equally execrable FAHRENHEIT 911, but can’t hold a candle to last year’s nominees CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS or FOG OF WAR. B-.
Sex/Violence? There is the mating, but how can you tell? Also the penguins are in danger some of the time, which might be quite scary to the little ones. I’d say at least 8 years old.
Family Film? Some of the men might get bored, but I don’t see how the whole family wouldn’t like this. Of course, if your idea of romantic Valentine’s is the entire family, you have different problems.
Pantheon Percentile: 45. It’s nice to watch, but doesn’t stack up to a great drama.
Of course, any good romance is a study of manipulation. We’re supposed to care about Jack and Rose while 1500 people drown, about Romeo and Juliet, moronic kids who've only known each other a week. (And what about poor Rosalyn?)
MARCH OF THE PENGUINS does the same. I was a little resentful that they played the animal behavior so humanly, without even a hint of explanation as to how much a role instinct played, or even bending a neck to get out of the cold and be better heard, something that will be vital to these birds later on. (You’ll see what I mean). Another example; a big deal is made of seasonal monogamy, without even an attempt to explain that without it the entire system would crash.
I doubt you’ll care, and I know your woman won’t. And these aren’t the worse faults in the world. For the most part I was just able to enjoy the grandeur of the frozen land and the hard work these poor penguins go through.
I admit up front I’ve always had a hard time taking penguins seriously. When you see them walk, you just wonder if it’s a joke being played. I mean, they don’t actually walk like that, can they?
Also, more than once I wondered if it had ever occurred to anyone to move the penguins to some remote South Pacific Island. They could swim in the sea and eat fish and raise their babies in much safer—and warmer—conditions. Even with hurricanes, it HAS to be better than where they are now. (How about it, Science?)
Still, the silliness of penguins aside, I did enjoy my time spent with them, and odds are you won’t mind either. After the film is over, imitate their goofy little walk, and you’ll have her eating out of your hand….or beak.