March of the Penguins
2005
Award-winning photographer Luc Jacquet takes documentary film to new heights -- and depths -- with his first feature film, a stunning insider's look at the life of emperor penguins living in one of the cruelest climates on the planet. The product of more than a year of filming on the Antarctic ice, this Oscar-winning documentary reveals never-before-captured footage of the penguins' underwater life and explores their steadfast quest for monogamy.

Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”

You don't need my recommendation to see this cultural phenomenon (it has already inspired the usual tug-of-war over family values), but that's just as well because you're not quite going to get it. The film is satisfying because there's only so much you could ever want to know about emperor penguins, and the movie reaches that point two-thirds of the way through its running time. I believe that it succeeds so well because it exhausts such a limited subject, but while I can criticize its artistic limitations, I can also admit that it's a pleasure to watch. This footage captures what humans have wondered ever since the flightless bird was first spotted, how in the hell it can breed and raise its young in such a brutal environment. The answer is filmed with crisp photography that frequently shows the birds down to their individual feathers, and also astounding, as we learn how these birds literally do not eat for months as they incubate their eggs. If you see the movie, forget the talking heads and simply lose yourself in the elegant compexity of nature.

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