A review of “March of the Penguins” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ****

Rating: G for great for all ages

Run Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

 

 

This is a story about love, and like all love stories it begins with an act or two of foolishness.  Thus begins the quixotic journey of the mighty emperor penguin, the most enchanting creature on earth.

The stalwart souls of the Antarctica are an enigma of nature.  They live alone on the darkest and coldest continent and move their graceful parade to their breeding grounds with unusual elegance.

Once there the penguins participate in an ancient and complicated mating ritual.  Paired up with their preferred partner their affairs are decidedly human; encompassing tenderness, separations and the hope of a new life.

The penguins may look like flummoxed waiters but theirs is a struggle like no other; against starvation, freezing cold temperatures (-58 degrees with the sun out), predators, and living and loving in the harshest place on the planet.

Their tribulations are astonishing. Females lay their eggs and hand over the care of the precious cargo to the males while the ladies endure a seventy-mile trek back to the sea for sustenance, having lost a third of their body weight to lack of nourishment and gestation fatigue. 

The males have their own cross to bear – protecting the eggs from vicious storms and nearly starving to death before the females return to spell them.

Fascinating facts flow from honey-voiced narrator Morgan Freeman with wit and wisdom.  Penguins and their mates, penguins’ relationship to the ice and snow.  The deep reservoir of feeling that binds mother penguin to her tiny offspring.

Visuals are stunning in their icy purity and untamed beauty; endless horizons of frozen tundra offering an essence of nature in its most primal state. An enthralling documentary of uncompromising charm and splendor.