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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

March of the Penguins

Narrated in the beautiful style of Morgan Freeman, this film, as the narration said was a story of love. It is a story of life, of triumphs, of beginnings, of shared joys and sorrows and of survival in the harshest environment that is the South Pole. It is the story of the king penguins and how they make the trip that is the defining story of their personal lives and of their collective history.

One aspect of the film which touched me most was the penguin’s structure of family and their family life in general. I cannot help but compare their set-up to Filipino families of OFWs who had had to endure long-term separation just so one of the parents can earn a living for their family especially for their young. It was surprising to realize that animals such as penguins are much more human-like than we ever can think.

Who can ever imagine that the unrelenting whiteness of the Arctic can be so beautiful! It was a study of light and light; an amazing photographic odyssey. I enjoyed the story only second to the wonderful cinematography that could have told the story of the king penguins by itself. One can only marvel at the way the filmmakers must have taken their photographs. The combination of long range shots which effectively showed the grand world of ice that was the kingdom of the penguins, as well as of the penguins in close-up, make for a very detailed and intimate picture of penguin life.

Of course, there weren’t any dialogue in English. Penguins being the main characters, it was all in penguin-talk. It was however very engaging to watch. Most of the sound present in the film: the crashing waves, the cries of the penguins and of other fowls in the area, all very much contributed to the feeling that you are in wildlife territory. It was all an awe-inspiring two hours of being in the wild but spanning a year in the life of king penguins. The symphonies used as background music for the film gave intensity to the implied freedom of the wild. It contributed to the grandness, the majesty not only of the vistas but also of the feeling of how it must feel to be there; to commune together for several months huddling against the cold as one big family. March_of_the_penguins_inner
Told in a linear fashion, it was a straightforward and very engaging account of the penguin journey. I applaud the ability of the film makers to have come up with a film that seems to be, but does not feel like, a documentary. It was a film alright, a movie with animal characters that anyone can identify with. Imagining the amount of material that they must have, being with the penguins for such a long time, the story was surprisingly tight and straightforward.

It is to the directors’ credit that March of the Penguins is a remarkably informative, fun, intimate, and endearing portrayal of the life of these remarkable creatures. Awe-inspiring, poetic and magnificent, the vistas and the picture of the penguins huddling together for warmth is something that will stay with me for a very long time.

** much thanks to my Humanities 2 class :)
kaigachi is a conjugation of the Japanese term "kigaicha" or crazy. It roughly translates as "crazy about something."

"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious." - C.Jung

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