La Marche de l'empereur

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I'm putting up the original French title because I really emjoyed March of the Penguins. The DVD we got was all sucky, so we watched it in French with Spanish subtitles, but it was still amazing.

Last year, this film was a big hit (for a documentary) and it even sprung the now infamous Penguin Wars, where Right-wingers celebrated the "traditional family values" portrayed in the film, whilst left-wingers and gay rights advocates pulled out some info proving that penguins were in fact some "pretty slutty birds". Geez, what the fuck? Listen to yourselves, people! Shame on all those who would use this beautiful film to advance their own political agenda (and to those who would answer those ridiculous claims).

This film shows the annual penguin migration from the Antarctic sea into some of the most inhospitable terrains on Earth. They make this arduous journey with only one objective, to mate. You'll find a much more eloquent and complete synopsis here.

This story is portrayed as one of fierce survival; penguin males and females equally pitch in to protect a single egg, from it's conception to hatching to the first few months of life of the hatchling's. You really see what a struggle survival is for these animals, as well as perpetuation of the species. You get a glimpse of how life is so delicate and at the same time such an unstoppable and unyielding force. Wow.

There are many scenes in which you see the penguin's breeding process cut short by accident or tragedy. There is a particular scene in which a female penguin's hatchling has not survived one of the final winter storms and has frozen to death underneath her womb. You actually see the female penguin wailing in agony at the sight of her lifeless offspring lying on the cold Antarctic floor; for her, life has lost and the winter has won. This was by far the most compelling and utterly devastating cinematic moment of 2005 (so says Germy). Take that, you measly human actors and your measly words.

Watching the "children of winter" emerge and life continue it's fragile but ever waging cycle is a joy in this astonishingly simple but powerful film. This is why movies are considered and art form. Enjoy.


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