Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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La Marche de l’empereur

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La Marche de l’empereur, Die Reise der Pinguine, March of the Penguins – whatever you call it, it remains a film about penguins. None of the sweet little buggers I saw in South Africa in spring – but the real thing, majestic emperor penguins in Antarctica, which are quite large not ‘because they can’ but rather because maximising the volume to surface ratio is their only chance to survive in the extreme temperatures of the region.

The film isn’t particularly heroic or action laden. It’s a documentary. And a slow one at that. We see that penguins exist. We see that many penguins exist. We see their long march away from the coast of Antarctica to their breeding grounds where they stay for months without food, breeding the egg with a new baby penguin. It’s quite impressive. The slightest mistake in handling the egg will cause it to die immediately because of the cold. And being more than a hundred kilometres from the coast and thus food, the parents have to take turns, first in breeding and then in caring for the newborn while the other walks all the way to the water to eat plenty of food that’s enough to keep themselves and the newborn alive.

Watching the film makes it seem pretty unlikely that penguins exists at all. And with the film containing numerous comments that the slightest mistake at this stage will cause the baby penguin to die it made me wonder why there aren’t piles of dead penguins all over Antarctica as surely some of them don’t make it and will die… But in the end the majority of them does survive and returns to the coast eventually where the parents return to their normal lives and the baby penguins try to swim, grow up and become rock stars.

Grown up and Baby Penguin marching

While I am impressed by the film because it takes me to a place that I am very unlikely to ever see myself and because the makers managed to make beautiful shots at the freezing cold end of the world without their own traces being visible in there – which I suspect must have been rather difficult –, I don’t consider the film to be as great as it sounded. It’s a documentary. Good documentaries have been made for ages. They can be nice to watch but just because now we have one with sweet little penguins in it doesn’t make it the greatest film of the summer.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

November 28, 2005, 9:33

Tagged as documentary, film, marche de l'empereur, nature, penguins.


Comment by Dave2: User icon

Totally agree. I enjoyed many aspects of the film… but it was stretched out for way too long. I’d like to see the half-hour edit please!

November 28, 2005, 11:56

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