March of the Penguins (2005)

I still remember when March of the Penguins (French: La Marche de l'empereur) was released and all I could think was, imagine how boring a documentary about penguins can be. In my defence, I was 11 and not into documentaries at all. Now that I'm into documentaries, I thought I'd give it a shot. 

Narrated by Morgan Freeman, the documentary follows the yearly journey of the Emperor penguins of Antartica in their quest for reproduction and survival. 

As the Antarctic autumn approaches, Emperor penguins abandon the ocean, climb onto the frozen ice and begin to march, in a single file, for over 100 kilometres, to reach the breeding ground. 

When they finally get there, they start looking for a partner and, after a ritual courtship of dancing and singing, they pair off into monogamous couples and mate. At this point, each female lays a single egg, transfers it to the feet of the male and they return to the faraway ocean to feed themselves and to get extra food to feed their chicks when they return.

While the females are looking for food, the males are tasked with taking care of the egg. But it's not as easy as it may seem (and as I've always thought) as the males have to suffer intense snow storms and raging winds, and have to survive against predators. Also, when the eggs hatch, if the female doesn't return, they have to abandon their chick and go search for food in the sea. Which means the newly born, fragile penguins are at risk from predatory birds and the harsh weather. 

When the females return, they feed the baby penguins and the males return to the sea to feed themselves. This is the time they can bond with their young. Unfortunately, it's not over yet, a storm arrives and some of the baby penguins die. But most of them survive, they later go to the ocean, stay there until they reach their adult life and then they follow the same pattern as their parents.

Buena Vista International France
Luc Jacquet's documentary is quite an experience as it manages to be both moving, and informative. There's plenty to learn about these noble animals and their adorable, cute babies --the sense of family and family values these animals project all the time are truly remarkable-- and he delivers it in a way that is compelling --and easy to understand for a younger audience. 

At last, March of the Penguins benefits from Morgan Freeman's beautiful narration as it really draws you in, a gorgeous cinematography and a relaxing and gentle score that suits both the subject of the documentary and the narration.


  1. I remember the hype for this, I liked it but now that I've seen all of the other documentaries that won Osars, this one is easily on the lower end.