I watched March of the Penguins tonight for the first time. Yesterday evening I watched the supplementary material on the DVD.

I enjoyed the documentary though I didn't feel myself all that affected by it personally. I've been told by others that they cried at parts--but after watching I can't figure out where. Maybe it was Morgan Freeman's voice--he was very matter-of-fact about it all--or maybe it was the funny way they walk, but I never felt emotionally connected to the cute buggers. In one of those smaltzy Disney movies they follow one family and you connect, but here it's a real documentary and that personal involvement is missing. At least it was for me.

Regardless, it was a very good picture just not as emotionally moving as I was expecting. I guess I shouldn't believe all of what I hear and read, huh? If I'd watched it not having heard about it beforehand I'd have been delighted, I'm sure. As it turned out, I liked the documentary Of Penguins and Men: The incredible filmmaking process of the movie more than the feature film.

Both documentaries were filmed by a French team that spent one year in Antartica on this project. While that's a long time to endure the harsh conditions there, I guess it's better than the 20 years that the average Emperor Penguin spends there. To paraphrase Thomas Hobbes: life is continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. It seems penguins have the same lot in life as man did in the Hobbesian State of Nature. A constant struggle with little in the way of rewards--but they sure look beautiful and full of grace when they swim.

Anyway, the documentary about the making of the film features a voiceover by one of the French cinematographers and his voice is as poetic as the script he reads. Reads isn't an adequate description---he feels the words out loud and their truth hits you like a stone. LOL At times it's way over the top but I found that version far more moving than the more polished version of the film. The cinematic release is more beautiful in a polished Hollywood fashion but in a way that holds back somewhat from the experience. One place the cinematic release is better though is with the sound effects from nature. That part is often haunting with the cries of the birds, the wind, and even the ice itself pouring over the viewer. Wow.


Leah said…
I have heard raves about this documentary as well but had not the chance to catch it yet. I will soon!

btw, Michele sent me.
Paste said…
I've not seen it either but it sounds interesting. Here from Michele's this wet and windy afternoon.
Cyndy said…
I would love to see this. Did you see "Winged Migration"? That was outstanding.
Here via Michele
Nikki-ann said…
I've not seen this one yet. I've noticed a few people have watched it and have given differing opinions.

Here from Michele's :) I hope you're enjoying the weekend!
Paige said…
Ahh look at the babies.
Happy weekend.
Hi here by way of Michele's
Pearl said…
Guess no one thing can resonate with everyone the same. I saw it and was baffled at all the laughter and tears around me. I was bored and annoyed at the Godly pulpit voice. I've heard the french narration is done in a lovely fashion, perhaps that's the cinematographer?
That was so excellent! very cool, especially the babies, but sad when some died. From Michele's.
I loved March of the Penguins, but was most fascinated in wondering what all the filmmakers must have, I will have to see the documentary!
I was reminded of a Dennis Miller quote:
"Sure, the lion is king of the jungle, but airdrop him into Antartica, and he's just a penguin's bitch." LOL
Here from Michele's!
Michelle said…
Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, they are so adorable! I can't wait to watch that dvd! In Oz, we have 'Fairy Penguins", they are teeny, and oh so cute!
kenju said…
I don't agree with you or Pearl. I saw it twice, and I got tearful when the penguin mom's egg got broken and she kept looking for her "baby". The conditions they endure are monumental, and the way they handle their lives is awe-inspiring. How could you not like that?
I saw this film and was very moved by it...It was heart breaking when they lost the egg after all the problems and these horrendous hardshipe that they endure...My Lord! And I don't agree at all on Morgan Freeman. His narratio, for me, was inspired, thoughtfu;, and emotionally moving....I found it a very very painful film to watch because of how hard the Penguins life is....I love the way penguins look---there is something so terribly vulnerable about them---they have always touched my heart. I find all that they go through so amazing and it is inspiring, too...but terribly terribly sad, too.
I forgot to say Micele sent me I was so non-plussed by your not feeling any emotiuonal connection to these very brave animals.
Dee said…
I felt the same way you did about this movie. It might be because I live in the country and I see how cruel nature can be when animals lose their eggs or the young are attacked by cayotes or whatever. It did not become emotionally attached to this movie. Interesting as it was, I just couldn't.
Pearl said…
I guess Kenju's question was sorta rhetorical but I'll answer for my part.

I felt like the movie was overbearing in trying to force feelings and lecture.

It was too slow paced and repetitive. With no narration or soundtrack I might have been able to get into it more.

Or without an audience that laughed every time a baby penguin fell down. I found that vaguely disturbing.

Sure a penguin is cute. Still photos, great. Lives lived, admirable.

Documentary, stylistically annoying.

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