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March of the Penguins

4.7 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Charles Berling, Jules Sitruk, Romane Bohringer
  • Directors: Luc Jacquet
  • Writers: Luc Jacquet, Michel Fessler, Jordan Roberts
  • Producers: Ilann Girard, Yves Darondeau, Christophe Lioud, Emmanuel Priou, Jean-Christophe Barret
  • Format: Widescreen, Blu-ray, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: G
  • Studio: Alliance Films
  • Release Date: Jan. 10 2012
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,126 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

Each winter, alone in the pitiless ice deserts of Antarctica, deep in the most inhospitable terrain on Earth, a truly remarkable journey takes place, as it has done for millenia. Emperor penguins in their thousands abandon the deep blue security of their ocean home and clamber onto the frozen land to begin their long journey to the continent's desolate interior, a region so bleak, so extreme, it supports no other life. In single file the penguins march, blinded by blizzards, buffeted by 250 k.p.h. gales. Resolute, indomitable, driven by the overpowering urge to reproduce, to assure the survival of the species.

Guided by instinct, by shadows beneath the treacherous ice, by the otherworldly radiance of the Southern Cross, they head unerringly for their traditional breeding ground where - after a ritual courtship of intricate dances and delicate manoeuvring, accompanied by a cacophony of ecstatic song - they will pair off into monogamous couples and mate. The days grow shorter, the weather ever more bitter. The females remain long enough only to lay. Once this is accomplished, exhausted by weeks without nourishment, they begin their return journey across 200 kilometres of ice-field to the fish-filled seas. The journey is hazardous, and rapacious sea leopards a predatory threat. The male emperors are left behind to guard and hatch the precious eggs, which they cradle at all times on their claws. Subjected to -40°C temperatures and the terrible trials of the polar winter, they too face great dangers. After four long months during which the males eat nothing, the eggs begin to hatch. Once they have emerged into their ghostly white new world, the chicks can survive for only 48 hours on their own food reserves. If their mothers are late returning from the ocean with food, the newly-hatched young will die.

Once the families are reunited, the roles reverse, the mothers remaining with their new young while their mates head, exhausted and starved, for the sea, and food. While the adults fish, the chicks face the ever-present threat of attack by rapacious giant petrels. As the weather grows warmer and the ice floes finally begin to crack and melt, the adults will repeat their arduous journey countless times, marching many hundreds of kilometres over some of the most treacherous territory on Earth, until the chicks are ready to take their first faltering dive into the deep blue waters of the Antarctic ocean. Standing proud on the ice frontier, the emperor embodies the most powerful moments of existence.

Love and solidarity combine in the heroic struggle for life. It is time for the emperor's legend to be told.© Luc Jacquet & Bonne Pioche

Winner of the 2006 Academy Award® for Best Documentary, March of the Penguins instantly qualifies as a wildlife classic, taking its place among other extraordinary films like Microcosmos and Winged Migration. French filmmaker Luc Jacquet and his devoted crew endured a full year of extreme conditions in Antarctica to capture the life cycle of Emperor penguins on film, and their diligence is evident in every striking frame of this 80-minute documentary. Narrated in soothing tones by Morgan Freeman, the film focuses on a colony of hundreds of Emperors as they return, in a single-file march of 70 miles or more, to their frozen breeding ground, far inland from the oceans where they thrive. At times dramatic, suspenseful, mischievous and just plain funny, the film conveys the intensity of the penguins' breeding cycle, and their treacherous task of protecting eggs and hatchlings in temperatures as low as 128 degrees below zero. There is some brief mating-ritual violence and sad moments of loss, but March of the Penguins remains family-friendly throughout, and kids especially will enjoy the Antarctic blue-ice vistas and the playful, waddling appeal of the penguins, who can be slapstick clumsy or magnificently graceful, depending on the circumstances. A marvel of wildlife cinematography, this unique film offers a front-row seat to these amazing creatures, balancing just enough scientific information with the entertaining visuals. --Jeff Shannon

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By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAME on Nov. 22 2005
Format: DVD
I have long been an admirer of penguins, so when this film was released in the cinema, my friends variously and collectively rushed to inform me of the film. I went to see it, and was amazed.
The plot of the film is extraordinarily simple - the film follows the Emperor Penguins of Antarctica during their annual mating and rearing cycle. It is framed from start to finish in terms of the march - the march from the sea to the mating spot, the march to return to the sea for food, the march again for rearing the young, and the march again finally to return to the sea.
There is a great deal of humour and grace; penguins are gentle beings, vulnerable to predators and to the hazards of the winter - despite being fashioned for some of the coldest climates on earth, they nonetheless require warmth, particularly for their eggs and the hatchlings. In the severe cold and far-below-zero windchills, many do not make it, and the one negative side of the film for me was a somewhat constant lingering on this downside. While it is a part of nature, it still becomes a bit more tragic in the cycle of the film than it needs to be. As this is billed as a family film, I worried that some of the children viewing might be more emotionally upset at this than they needed to be.
Still, the details presented are fascinating, and it is a true testament to filmmaking that these shots and images were captured as dramatically, humourously, gracefully and beautifully as they were.
This film has 'Academy Award' written all over it, in many categories. Cinematography, musical score, directing, documentary - these are only some of the categories in which this film is likely to get a nod.
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Format: DVD
The Oscar winner for Best Documentary, March of the Penguins actually earned more at the box office (to the tune of over 77 million dollars) than four of the five movies nominated for Best Picture. It may be a wildlife documentary, but it is definitely a theatrical experience. With its gorgeous cinematography and impeccable narration by the acclaimed Morgan Freeman, it can't help but impress, but the stars of the show are the Emperor Penguins of Antarctica, truly one of the most amazing species of animals on the planet. These aren't just little guys in tuxedoes who waddle around and sometimes fall down for our amusement; these are incredibly sensitive, intelligent creatures who truly reveal the wonders of Creation in the form of their uniquely challenging lives. Anyone who says that animals have no souls hasn't looked into the eyes of a single animal; emotions that some consider uniquely human are revealed for all to see in March of the Penguins.

It's no surprise that life on the Antarctic continent is a rather harsh affair, but it's amazing to see just how hard life truly is for the Emperor Penguin. It would seem, though, that this is the way they want it. Every autumn, hundreds and hundreds of these creatures leave their ocean homes to trek no less than seventy miles to their ancient breeding ground far inside the Antarctic interior. Once they arrive, the males and females form up in monogamous pairs. Once an egg is laid, the female and male take part in an elaborate dance by which the egg is transferred from the female to the male. Each precious egg can only survive mere moments in the harsh Antarctic cold, so the transfer process must be done efficiently - there is only one try. Not all transfers are successful, and even Mr.
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Format: DVD
(This review was originally written on December 5th, 2005, and Amazon failed to transfer it to this new version of the same film.)

Every once in a while, a movie is made that is quite good in the sense that it is above the average quality of releases, but garners so much mass attention that it is praised well beyond what it deserves. It is definitely the case that, compared to the usual drivel that Hollywood cynically aims at "dumb-ographics," this is deserving of far greater attention. However, compared to the many great movies, some from Hollywood and many independently made, this picture's mediocrity runs the risk of turning potential new audiences (who are either unable or unwilling to see independent film) off of the cinematic world beyond Hollywood, since they expect to see something really great -- among the best of what independent media has produced all year -- when it is really just alright.

This hype is not the fault of the makers of the film, but the quality of it is. Simply put, this documentary about the penguin life cycle too self-consciously tries to be cute. Through heavy edits and a narration by Morgan Freeman, the story feels forced, downright manipulative, and unnatural -- much like an old episode of Lorne Greene's "New Wilderness." It was sweet but not very touching.

Now, "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill" has a similar point -- to explain how "human" a certain group of birds are. Yet it does this with much more success. The drama is far more genuine, as the emotions come from the people involved with the birds and their interpretations of the birds' moods. Also, the impressive footage serves to honestly and subtly accentuate the story. "Wild Parrots" is easily the best documentary of the year (about humans and/or animals).
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