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4.4 out of 5 stars148
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 22 September 2006
''March of the Penguins." It sounds like the title of an unwritten episode in George Lucas's intergalactic megafranchise, but this touching and brisk National Geographic-produced documentary actually is about penguins, with whom we have far more in common than any of the digitized creations in Lucas land.

Directed by Luc Jacquet, bravely photographed by Jerome Maison and Laurent Chalet, and narrated by The Great Voice Of Morgan Freeman, ''March of the Penguins" presents the unique breeding cycle of Antarctic emperor penguins, majestic little creatures with long white torsos, talon-like beaks, and an enduring need to reproduce. 'rampant little thing's they can be' lol

Every spring, they waddle and slide on their bellies for miles to a wide open space where the ice is thickest and where hundreds of other penguins have gathered to look for a mate in the coldest place on earth.

It's a great, big singles mixer. And because the females outnumber the males, the ladies compete for the attention of the unattached men, who seem to know the statistics and carry on with a cocky sense of aloofness. The movie never says what becomes of the single female, who presumably will have to wait until next season, but certainly someone at Modern Penguin magazine is writing an article about how they should be in a total panic.

The good news for the remaining singles is that there really is always next year: Once the courtship is over, the love made, and the egg hatched, man, woman, and child sever their bond and go their separate ways, only to gather in the same spot the following season for a different partner. The movie never mentions whether repeat couplings occur or if really old penguins have midlife crises and just want to keep pairing off with hot young things. lol

Alas, ''March of the Penguins" is a sensitively made family film about how families are created and maintained. The bulk of the footage shows us what a nightmare parenting is, a never-ending trudge back and forth for sustenance. The single egg is laid (only is one produced per rotation) in the thick of winter. Mum, who is depleted and famished, trudges back to the sea for food enough for her and baby, entrusting the fathers to keep the eggs safe from freezing and from predators.

For two months, and as 100 mile an hour winds hit them in 80-below temperatures, that's enought to turn us human beings into human snowman pretty damn quick lol the males huddle in a large, heat-generating mass that, from above, resembles a black-and-white jetty. The eggs remain in a pocket cradle atop the father-to-be's claws and beneath a flap of warm belly flesh. Some penguins lose the egg, which freezes on the ice.

''March of the Penguins" doesn't hide the dangers of being a penguin. It shows the feeding mothers, who plow through the water like torpedoes, under a hungry leopard seal's attack. Kids might blanch at some of the more upsetting images, but ultimately the movie will delight and uplift more families than it will scare.
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on 9 January 2009
This is an excellent moving film. Morgan Freeman's naration is excellent adding a real feeling of care and warmth for the penguins. It is highly recommended! The content of the film definitely deserves 4 stars at least and this review should be read in this context.

So why only 3 stars? This is a review of the Blu-ray version of the film. So what is this film like in HD (bearing in mind that this comes at a 200% premium compared the standard definition version March of the Penguins - Luc Jacquet [2005])? The HD adds nothing. At times it seems more like an upscaled DVD. Certainly compared with the same material from Planet Earth on Blu-ray this is very poor. Bearing in mind that this was shown in the cinemas on a large screen this must be a flaw in the conversion. What a let down as it is not hard to see how beautiful this could have been.
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on 11 December 2005
They're big birds, Emperor Penguins, and they combine the dignity of a maitre d' in formal dinner suit with the comic bathos of a Chaplin … multiplied by the thousands. ''March of the Penguins" follows their Antarctic breeding pattern - although 'breeding' is altogether too rapid a word for such an astonishing feat of endurance. The birds march miles through some of the most inhospitable weather and terrain on earth - 'march' may be too dignified a word for their metronomic waddle and occasional belly slide, but it does convey their indomitable determination and sense of purpose.
The film may concentrate on the routines of survival on ice, producing an egg, keeping that egg warm until it hatches, keeping baby alive until it is capable of fending for itself (there is an enormous death toll), but it also follows the penguins into the sea. Unable to fly, once in the water they take flight. Water really is their element. But, with no predator on land (or ice) except the temperature and weather, at sea they are hunted, and life becomes a life and death struggle for survival.
A massive box office hit, ''March of the Penguins" is a French documentary which has attracted considerable critical acclaim. It's original French soundtrack can be a bit twee in places in the way it gives the birds a voice, but the American, English language version casts Morgan Freeman in the role of narrator. Now Freeman has a lovely voice - warm, avuncular, yet with just a hint of gravitas. Unfortunately, the narration at times does tend to sound like "The Shawshank Redemption" - a brilliant film in its own right, but the voice-over here can be a touch sentimental … overwhelmingly so at times.
The visual imagery, the sheer visual genius of the film is extraordinary, and often commentary enough. It literally features a cast of thousands, every one of them typecast as a loveable little character. And, let's face it, penguins are about as loveable as they come.
If you like nature photography, if you love penguins, this is a must-watch film which, despite the voice over, will keep you entertained and amazed for hours. And maybe, just maybe, it'll waken up a few more people to the threat of global warming - somebody needs to ensure that George Bush sees this and recognises that the world we have needs protecting!
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on 4 December 2006
If you make the effort to catch March of the Penguins, you'll be predictably pleased for the simple fact that if it's penguins you want to see it's penguins you're going to get. Beaucoups de penguins. And you will learn plenty about these noble survivors of the coldest place on earth. If it's Danny DeVito or Burgess Meredith you came to see, you are quite off the mark.

The Emperor Penguins of Antarctica survive and perpetuate their species in a frozen and surreal environment driven by instincts developed over centuries. They have mostly monogamous relationships and in the midst of this can recognize one another's 'voices'. These relationships help to organize survival. We get seemingly impossible and privileged views of their long marches across barren landscapes, complex rituals of protecting of fragile eggs in 160 mph winds, huddled in huge packs against the cold, males and females sharing food foraging duties, and chubby birds diving to great depths for fish. It's a remarkable system of survival.

The French filmmakers shot on super 16mm film for one year (with 120 hours of images), which is a whole winter cycle for the emperor. They saw none of the images as they progressed. Nobody left until it was done and director as LUC JACQUET SAYS; "It took a year to recover. Re-entry is a long process." The result is, no doubt, some the most remarkable footage ever filmed on the subject. What they do, of course, to reel in their audience is to anthropomorphize these creatures. Like the recent "Parrots of Telegraph Hill" we see the penguins take on the attributes of 'love' and 'caring'.

The baby penguins toddle along just like little people, except that they do so braving extreme minus degree temperatures. Miles of these cute birds march across landscapes like little wind up toys in a John Ford snow desert. The story is assisted by cloying music and narration, and the dulcet tones of the ubiquitous Morgan Freeman. But any criticism of the manipulative aspects of the film would be irrelevant in the face of the achievement. These are stunning images beautifully assembled to serve a remarkable story. If your going to get the paying public into a nature flick, this is the way to do it.
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on 10 October 2006
Although this technically is a glorified television documentary, I can completely see why this was put into cinemas.

I won't bore you with facts about penguins, but it is guaranteed to make you go "Awww!" If you are more cynical about fluffy creatures, it does not cease to be fascinating following the annual ritual of the penguins.

It focuses quite a lot on the love between the penguins which is lovely. It's been placed under children's films here, which I agree with. This wouldn't look at all out of place alongside your Disney films.

As they get older, or are at an age to appreciate it, they will be able to understand the lifecycle of these lovely creatures.

But for the younger ones, the visual impact would be enough I imagine, and at just over an hour, doesn't entail sitting forever. Even can be watched in shorter sittings if necessary.

However, children aside, I thought this film was lovely!

There's no real interest in penguins needed- although if you dislike with a passion documentaries, I perhaps wouldn't recommened this particular film.

Captivating with stunning scenery.
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on 12 September 2006
This is a beautiful, beautiful DVD. I don't agree with the people slating it because it isn't 'documentary' enough. The fact is, the film doesn't claim to be the next David Attenborough instalment and isn't shown on BBC 2 at 7pm for that reason! I don't think it is lacking because of this, it is actually quite refreshing to have a bit of a story rather than just a commentary of the animals actions, without being too sickly and over the top. I hadn't realised Morgan Freeman was the narrator until I started watching it, but really think his voice suits the film, whether he is a celebrity or not!

There ARE things missing if you are expecting a documentary, but if you view it with an open mind as I did, I don't see how you can fail to be moved by the film. The scenery is breathtaking and without being too pathetic - they are just so CUTE! I think it is a very simple idea done very well. It's not pretentious and not graphic, its just a lovely piece of cinema.
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on 24 January 2006
Beautiful photographs of penguins from the film - but look out - the text is written for young children!
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on 19 May 2007
''March of the Penguins." It sounds like the title of an unwritten episode in George Lucas's intergalactic megafranchise, but this touching and brisk National Geographic-produced documentary actually is about penguins, with whom we have far more in common than any of the digitized creations in Lucas land.

Directed by Luc Jacquet, bravely photographed by Jerome Maison and Laurent Chalet, and narrated by The Great Voice Of Morgan Freeman, ''March of the Penguins" presents the unique breeding cycle of Antarctic emperor penguins, majestic little creatures with long white torsos, talon-like beaks, and an enduring need to reproduce. 'rampant little thing's they can be' lol

Every spring, they waddle and slide on their bellies for miles to a wide open space where the ice is thickest and where hundreds of other penguins have gathered to look for a mate in the coldest place on earth.

It's a great, big singles mixer. And because the females outnumber the males, the ladies compete for the attention of the unattached men, who seem to know the statistics and carry on with a cocky sense of aloofness. The movie never says what becomes of the single female, who presumably will have to wait until next season, but certainly someone at Modern Penguin magazine is writing an article about how they should be in a total panic.

The good news for the remaining singles is that there really is always next year: Once the courtship is over, the love made, and the egg hatched, man, woman, and child sever their bond and go their separate ways, only to gather in the same spot the following season for a different partner. The movie never mentions whether repeat couplings occur or if really old penguins have midlife crises and just want to keep pairing off with hot young things. lol

Alas, ''March of the Penguins" is a sensitively made family film about how families are created and maintained. The bulk of the footage shows us what a nightmare parenting is, a never-ending trudge back and forth for sustenance. The single egg is laid (only is one produced per rotation) in the thick of winter. Mum, who is depleted and famished, trudges back to the sea for food enough for her and baby, entrusting the fathers to keep the eggs safe from freezing and from predators.

For two months, and as 100 mile an hour winds hit them in 80-below temperatures, that's enought to turn us human beings into human snowman pretty damn quick lol the males huddle in a large, heat-generating mass that, from above, resembles a black-and-white jetty. The eggs remain in a pocket cradle atop the father-to-be's claws and beneath a flap of warm belly flesh. Some penguins lose the egg, which freezes on the ice.

''March of the Penguins" doesn't hide the dangers of being a penguin. It shows the feeding mothers, who plow through the water like torpedoes, under a hungry leopard seal's attack. Kids might blanch at some of the more upsetting images, but ultimately the movie will delight and uplift more families than it will scare.
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HALL OF FAMEon 31 January 2006
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. Morgan Freeman never appears on camera, but gives a wonderful reading as the narrator of this visual feast, adding subtle emphasis that never detracts and often adds to the tale in the English-language version of this film.
Director Luc Jacquet and cinematographers, Laurent Chalet and Jerome Maison have produced a masterpiece that transcends language barriers (indeed, there is no native human language for Antarctica). A French team, they have translated this film into many languages around the world, as people everywhere will find something with which they can relate.
Perhaps the most skillful part of the filming was to make Antarctica seem so varied in texture and place; on a continent covered with ice and snow, one still gets the sense of the length of the journey, the beauty inherent in the surroundings, and the dangers involved for the penguins.
Through the credits, one gets to see the film crew in some light-hearted scenes with curious penguins. These are expanded upon in the DVD version, with many more scenes of penguins swimming, diving and feeding in truly remarkable filming. There is also a Warner Brothers short animation as a bonus. The audio track can be done in English or Spanish (French is also available as subtitles) - because of the nature of this film, overdubbing in different languages is in no way a detraction.
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If you never thought you could be moved by a documentary on penguins, think again. This film is beautifully shot by Luc Jacquet and sensitively narrated by Morgan Freeman. It will move you to sadness, make you smile, and you will be amazed at the conditions and hardships these birds go through to produce young. Truly amazing, truly inspiring and hugely informative but above all entertaining and captivating for the length of the film. Loved it!
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