March of the Penguins

March of the Penguins

3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5 3.0

Comments Comments (0)

Talking animals are a tricky thing to get right, especially in non-animated films: If they’re as charming as they are in Babe, its superior sequel, and the endearing Two Brothers, it’s because the narratives of these films are pitched as fables. But Luc Jacquet’s La Marche de L’Emprereur makes a larger claim to reality, which is why the original director’s cut has been considerably tweaked for the film’s official U.S. release after its mixed Sundance premiere: the Björk-esque pop songs performed by Emile Simon have been replaced by a straightforward score by Alex Wurman and the first-person narration from the perspective of the documentary’s emperor penguins has been changed to a third-person narration courtesy of Morgan Freeman. This remixed version of the film is probably nowhere near as avant garde or strange as the original French cut, which is not to say it’s boring: Jacquet’s images of penguins leaning against each other in romantic rapture are often breathtaking (the space between the female and male bodies often takes the shape of a cartoon heart) and the world-weary Freeman narration—familiar from so many crowd-pleasers like The Shawshank Redemption and Million Dollar Baby—actually fits the emperor penguin’s struggle like a glove. Every year, these animals make the perilous journey to a traditional breeding ground where males and females systematically pair up and engage in an ancient ritual of survival. Theirs is an equal partnership predicated on joint risks and one shared goal: to keep their species alive. Eggs are hatched and chicks are exchanged between males and females, kept warm beneath a father or mother’s flap of skin while the other parent makes the trip to the faraway ocean for food. Every risk and tragedy the penguins confront—along with their complex ritual behaviors and modes of communication—is documented with effortless ease, and like fat little men and women wobbling home after a night of hardcore drinking, these little buggers don’t have to try very hard to be cute.

Image/Sound

The still shots Luc Jacquet used throughout the film are more clearly visible on DVD, and through the penguin suits look great, they attract plenty of edge enhancement. Audio is solid, especially the post-production sound of Morgan Freeman’s narration and Alex Wurman’s score.

Extras

For curious fans of the film, couldn't Warner Home Video have included the original French version on the disc's flipside? The hour-long (sans chapter stops) making-of featurette "Of Penguins and Men" gives a face to the experience of the documentary crew who went to Australia to shoot the march of the penguins. Also included on the disc is a National Geographic special on emperor penguins, the Looney Tunes short "8 Ball Bunny," and trailers for The March of the Penguins and other kid-friendly titles in the Warner library.

Overall

Shake your tailfeather!

Image 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5

Sound 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5

Extras 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5

Overall 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5 3.0 out of 5

Specifications
  • DVD-Video
  • Dual-Layer Disc
  • Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Dolby Digital Formats
  • English 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish 5.1 Surround
  • DTS
  • None
  • Subtitles & Captions
  • English Closed Captions
  • English Subtitles
  • French Subtitles
  • Spanish Subtitles
  • Special Features
  • "Of Penguins and Men" Featurette
  • National Geographic Special
  • "8 Ball Bunny" Looney Tunes Short
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Buy
    DVD | Soundtrack
    Release Date
    November 29, 2005
    Distributor
    Warner Home Video
    Runtime
    80 min
    Rating
    G
    Year
    2005
    Director
    Luc Jacquet
    Screenwriter
    Jordan Roberts
    Cast
    Morgan Freeman