The Fascinating Life of the Penguin


Long  overdue, I finally took the time this evening to watch the fantastic Academy Award-winning documentary, La marche de l’empereur (2005) (English title, March of the Penguins).  I was fascinated by the story of the Emperor Penguins of Antarctica.  At the end of summer each year, every breeding penguin leaves the ocean seas and travels together with their herd great distances by foot (and through belly sliding) to reach their breeding grounds.  These grounds have been located in the exact same location for this penguin colony for hundreds of years.  Many herds travel between 30-70 miles distance to join the colony.  Once there, the penguins mate and eventually the female lays an egg.  The parents are then in a life and death struggle to protect the egg, keep warm themselves, and to individually go back and forth to their original destination, miles away, in order to feed back at sea. 

The reason the penguins travel to this particular breeding ground is because the ice there is thick enough year-round to support the colony of breeding penguins.  Also, there are walls surrounding the area that protect the penguins from the harsh winds.  Nonetheless, in this location the penguins are constantly faced with extreme weather and other natural conditions that make survival difficult, to say the least.  These conditions include temperatures 80 degrees fahrenheit below zero, winds blowing as high as 100 mph, predators flying and attacking from overhead, and a situation where the nearest food source is located many miles away.  The story is quite interesting to watch and the footage captured by the French film crew is absolutely beautiful.  If you haven’t yet watched the film, I do recommend it.  If you want to know more, check out the movie description and background information about these fascinating creatures on Wikipedia.

I watched the English version of the film, which is narrated in third person by Morgan Freeman.  While this version was well done, I read on Wikipedia that the French version, and other versions too, depict the story from the perspective of the penguins.  Therefore, in telling the story the film uses a male, female, and child’s voice as the “voices” of the penguins.  I am a curious to know how well that worked for the film.


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