Penguins in Plight


“We can fly, right? God wouldn’t be
so cruel to give us defective wings.”

While watching “March of the Penguins,” I sensed God’s humor at work. Imagine being a bird and not able to fly… and that’s the least of a penguin’s problems. Penguins live in one of the harshest places on Earth, where hell has frozen over. You’d think these birds pissed off God, but their survival as a species is a sign God might be waddling by their side. Arguably, to watch “March of the Penguins” is to witness a miracle.

It is adorable to see penguins move in their signature walk, but the documentary goes beyond cute. I was surprised by the amount of heartbreaking moments. The life of a penguin is a treacherous one, with numerous battles against the frigid weather. During merciless winter storms, their best defense is a community cuddle. The documentary also features their strange ways of bringing life into the world. It involves extreme endurance, major responsibilities, long periods of hunger, and endless miles of journey. Their struggle made me admire them more but it made me powerless in the way I couldn’t help. Was there some way I could send them some food and blankets? Can we send the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” crew to build them a state-of-the-art igloo?

My quibble with the docu is that sometimes it gets carried away in portraying the penguins as humans. At one point, it insists that what we see is more than a tale of survival – it is a love story. That’s a bit of a stretch for me, but it fits the narration. Morgan Freeman, with a voice as warm as a blanket, narrates with words that sometimes approach dreamy, ponderous, and poetic. He talks of a legend, where he likened penguins as the one tribe that behind in Antarctica. And I love the confessions of I-don’t-knows and maybes, preserving a certain wonder and mystique about the penguins. Sometimes you just don’t want to know why penguins do the things they do. Maybe even the penguins don’t know the reasons as well. The way they live their lives is a tradition, a centuries-old product of evolution. It works, it’s intriguing, and that’s all we need to know.

Grade: A-

AS TOLD BY
Morgan Freeman

Screenplay by
Jordan Roberts

Directed by
Luc Jacquet

Rated G

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