February 27, 2006
March of the Penguins, by Director Luc Jacquet, demonstrates that sometimes the simplest conflicts in life are perhaps the greatest. This film is penguin versus nature; it's love; it's birth; it's death. Each of the three themes are simple. Each of the themes are clear. The end result is a movie that packs more feeling than anything I have seen in a long time.
March of the Penguins presents perhaps the most basic concept of all, reproduction. The film documents the annual cycle of the Antarctic's emperor penguins and the vast distances they must tolerate in order to survive and repopulate. Just prior to the beginning of winter, packs of penguins crawl up onto the ice and set forth to toddle some 70 miles inland. They then congregate with the females at the same mating grounds that they were raised at. Males and females pair off, introduce each other and perform their ancient mating dance. Once the egg is laid, the female passes it off to the male. She heads back to the ocean to fatten up again, he stays behind and guards the egg in the bitter cold. When the egg hatches, the females come back to the site with full bellies and food for their newly hatched chicks. Now, the males' will in turn to march back to the ocean to feed. This is the cycle that the penguins have endured for millennia.
It's really quite astonishing all that these birds suffer annually just to lay an egg. If one thing goes wrong, all the work is for nothing. There is no solace, just a long wait for another year. The then adrift penguin begins the long swagger back to the ocean. March of the Penguins points out the other dangers that the penguins must face, such as starving to death, various predators and even one another.
The circle of life is such a simple concept, yet it is so universal. Director Luc Jacquet portrays the film in very human terms. The penguins go through many emotions that humans share: suffering, loss, love, and loyalty....