Reel Reviews

Film Reviews by a Real Person, Not a Critic

March of the Penguins

Title: March of the Penguins
Year: 2005
Director: Luc Jacquet
Starring cast: A tribe of adorable Emperor Penguins!
Narrator: Morgan Freeman (English Language version)
Rated: G

Reel Reviews Rating:

Sometimes we all feel that life is tough. Maybe things aren’t going well at work, or perhaps we have issues with our families. At times we are thankful to just make it through the day.

At least you’re not an Emperor Penguin.

March of the Penguins is the Academy Award winning documentary on the lives of Emperor Penguins, who live in the harsh, merciless climate of Antarctica. Their story of survival is truly amazing, as they endure predators, starvation, and the extreme winter to ensure the safety of the next generation.

And what a cute generation it turns out to be!

As mentioned above, Morgan Freeman narrates the English language version of this French documentary. Apparently the original was “dubbed” such that the penguins were given speaking voices. I guess that was too cheesetastic even for English speaking audiences, so it was decided that we hear Mr. Freeman’s soothing narration instead.

There is some discussion as to whether or not March of the Penguins deserved the Oscar. After all, there are lots of terrific animal documentaries shown every day on stations such as The Discovery Channel or Animal Planet. In addition, some criticize the “Disneyfication” of the Emperor Penguins’ lives. Penguin deaths are underemphasized (older penguins “fall asleep”; baby penguins “disappear”), and Freeman’s narration tends to anthromorphize the animals In my opinion, I think that for the purposes of the film, the deaths were covered appropriately. For example, we see predators attack the penguins but don’t see their bodies torn apart. It’s unnecessary to show such a scene in this film. They do show penguins freezing to death, old and young alike.

And as far as anthromorphization, yes I agree to some degree that it’s silly to say that a mother penguin is overjoyed to see her baby since we know that penguins aren’t capable of such complex emotions. At the same time, there is one really baffling scene that made me question my way of thinking. Apparently in some cases, when mother Emperor Penguins lose their babies, some become so distraught that they try to kidnap another’s baby. Other tribe members stop her from doing this, and the real mother whisks the baby away.

Oh by the way, there is some hot, penguin-on-penguin sex, but the English version is edited such that you only see the upper bodies of the penguins. Then again, since the male is rocking back and forth behind the female, what they’re doing is pretty obvious (if you’re an adult).

Although this is overall made for kids, I don’t know if they will like March of the Penguins, especially the very young. Not because of the penguin deaths or penguin sex, but because it will bore the hell out of them. Kids have a short attention span, and if there’s no superheroes blowing up villians, explosions, or ninjas, then they’ll most likely watch for about a minute, squeal when they see the baby Emperor Penguins, then go on their merry way. Actually, I doubt that older kids will like it either. They’d rather watch The O.C. or some lame crap like that.

I definitely recommend March of the Penguins to animal lovers, animal documentary lovers, or to just anyone curious about the lives of Emperor Penguins. If you decide to show it to your older kids, it’s best to watch it with them so you can answer any questions they have. Don’t bother showing it to any child under 6 years old. They’ll just walk away.

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March 24, 2006 - Posted by | Documentary, Foreign


  1. “Sometimes we all feel that life is tough. Maybe things aren’t going well at work, or perhaps we have issues with our families. At times we are thankful to just make it through the day.

    At least you’re not an Emperor Penguin.”

    Aye, that was exactly how I felt after watching this movie.

    Comment by The 250 | March 25, 2006 | Reply

  2. there are very few talented actors that is as versatile as morgan freeman *,:

    Comment by Satin Panties | December 2, 2010 | Reply

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