Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Morgan Freeman (narration)
Written by: Luc Jacquet, Jordan Roberts
Directed by: Luc Jacquet
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 85
Date: 01/21/2005
IMDB

March of the Penguins (2005)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Black and White All Over

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This documentary follows the Emperor Penguins of the Arctic North over the course of a year as they walk to their breeding grounds and struggle to survive against starvation and the cold. Director Luc Jacquet captures some remarkable nature shots, getting up close and documenting the entire frigid process, yet the film itself plays like little more than a PBS special. It's the narration -- read in English by Morgan Freeman -- that made March of the Penguins a huge hit. The screenplay, by Jordan Roberts, and Freeman's inflection endow the penguins with personality they would not ordinarily possess; the film gives them human traits onto which audiences quickly and eagerly latched. When a mother penguin loses her baby to the cold, the film gets entire groups of humans to mourn. Whether or not this offends you is the key to the film's success. Freeman also narrated Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds at around the same time, leading to a series of jokes. Charles Berling (demonlover, Red Lights) was the narrator for the French version.