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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 34.95%
Average: 8.74%
Pretty Bad: 7.77%
Total Crap: 10.68%

9 reviews, 49 user ratings

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March of the Penguins
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by Matt Seaver

"Penguins are the best creatures ever created. Here's proof."
5 stars

I'm not entirely sure what to make of this big documentary push. For one, I think it's great that people have an interest in seeing non-fiction pieces and actually learning. I just wish there was some assurance that the majority of docs ended up being more similar to this one, as opposed to Michael Moore-style firestarting one-sided propaganda (and I liked "Fahrenheit 9/11" when I first saw it). "Penguins" hits all the right notes, simply by showing an amazing natural occurrence. Nowhere does it try to explain in "human terms" why this happens; it just lets the penguins act for themselves.

The natural occurrence is the mating ritual of the emperor penguin, a long and dangerous ordeal that takes the better part of the year. Each year the penguins walk, waddle and slide 70 miles over the Antarctic tundra to the same spot they've always been gathering, choose a mate, and begin to settle in for the long season. Once the egg is laid, the mother passes it off to the father, and begins a series of hand-offs as the parents take turns going to the shore to feed and get food for the chick, each stretch made more dangerous by weather, predators and hunger.

The film is not forgiving in its reality. Despite the G rating, the film shows the natural order of things and the food chain in all its necessity and brutality, though there was a little suspect editing to make seals look a bit more threatening than really required. No one wants to see penguins getting hurt... they're penguins!

The most amazing thing about this film is the proximity. Director Luc Jacquet and his crew got so incredibly close to these animals, it might as well be a zoo. And for the most part, it looked like the flock really didn't care. Usually with documentarians getting this close to their subjects, there is some bit of curiosity on the animal's part, but not here. The cameras may as well not be there at all. As such, they were able to get some gorgeous shot of these animals and the world in which they live, often with implied risk to the crew's health. You have to assume that the same wind and snow that was battering the flock was also hitting the camera crews and equipment. Also of note is the blatant lack of the filmmakers in the shoot. The first time you see a human being in the film is during the credits. They really took care to allow the penguins to tell the whole story

... except, of course, for the narration. Morgan Freeman should do more voiceover projects. He has a fantastic voice for something like this, and he's great here. The script was pretty minimal, with a comment here or there. Well done all around.

It's unusual for good G-rated fare to come around that isn't painfully ridiculous. "March of the Penguins" may only appeal to those people with a pre-existing affinity for the birds, but then again... who doesn't have one? It's good time spent, enjoyable to watch, and egads! You may just learn something in the process.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 06/03/06 01:11:58
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Atlanta Film Festival For more in the 2005 Atlanta Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/16/14 Peter M Great subject turned into sentimental nonsense. Three times over length 3 stars
3/23/10 John Wow! Talk about a grouchy review. For unemotional info, get a textbook, not a film. 5 stars
11/08/09 joel try's to make penguins look like humans 1 stars
5/21/09 Luis Alvarez Really boring. I ended up making fun of of the penguins "sadness." 1 stars
1/13/09 Anonymous. i learned alot about penguins watching this. 4 stars
1/21/08 deborah mclean ditto on what brian said 5 stars
6/19/07 Jessiika I really like it and thought it was great :D Penguins are cute hahaha 4 stars
5/23/07 isha boring more exciting please 1 stars
1/13/07 David Pollastrini they're cuuuuuute! 5 stars
12/06/06 chienne I work in Mental Health. Enough said. 4 stars
8/10/06 Dragon The Artist An overrated mushfest,I dont understand why so many people adore it. 1 stars
7/29/06 David Cohen A brilliant antidote for the Disney "nature loves everyone" mentality 5 stars
7/01/06 Gerry Irons Amazing Filming-but thought it sensationalized penguins deaths-penguins die allot we get it 2 stars
6/12/06 millersxing Jacquet brings the penguins; Freeman brings the gravitas--and that's documentary gold. 4 stars
6/08/06 Peggy Doty INTERESTING 5 stars
6/04/06 michael Not just a kids movie either 4 stars
6/03/06 San Lamar i liked it 5 stars
5/27/06 lasharee davis It was very interresting 5 stars
4/29/06 Sheila Spectacular 5 stars
3/03/06 Tanya Beautiful, yet touching, I enjoyed it. great documentary 5 stars
2/25/06 PAG Overrated. Somewhat interesting, but no more than the average Discovery Channel doc. 3 stars
2/21/06 Anne Gallick I never suspected that the live of a penguin was so miserable. This movie is a cryfest. 3 stars
12/20/05 Martin I liked the penguins. 4 stars
12/11/05 Phil M. Aficionado Fascinating in all respects, and an astounding undertaking to film it. Beautiful too. 5 stars
10/20/05 Agent Sands Your obligated to see this if you're an animal lover like me. 4 stars
10/10/05 Jenny Chen A marverous movie 5 stars
9/09/05 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne ALMOST made me forget that Morgan Freeman twice co-starred with Trashley Dudd! 5 stars
9/09/05 John great story in eth tradition of the old Disney Nature documentaries 4 stars
9/05/05 Daryl Walker This is an adorable and fascinating documentary. 4 stars
8/28/05 jenjenmarie absolutely amazing. a true documentary that anyone can enjoy 5 stars
8/28/05 DM The kind of movie where you keep asking, "How did they get that footage?" 4 stars
8/25/05 Smitty Absolutely beautiful, see it in a theater, not on video, but a real bore-ass of a movie. 2 stars
8/25/05 Tom Benton As far as documentaries go, "March of the Penguins" is wonderful. 5 stars
8/23/05 chris. nothing i didn't know before, but i'm a nerd. i'm glad this gives a large audience a look 5 stars
8/21/05 flipst0oge it was so 1 stars
8/18/05 Ilana Sprongl Wonderful film about that most amaizing creature, the penguin. 5 stars
8/15/05 Mark This was the best nature documentary i have ever seen 5 stars
7/30/05 clinger26 You've got to see this documentary 5 stars
7/26/05 rachel fascinating! fabulous! intriguing! 5 stars
7/24/05 R.W. Welch Penguins outwit world's harshest environment. Nicely filmed and written. 4 stars
7/23/05 ajay wonderful story. everyone, yes EVERYONE should see this. 5 stars
7/23/05 Kristina Williams If only humans were so dedicated....... 5 stars
7/15/05 Jan K. A long way to walk with such short legs! 5 stars
7/14/05 Bill Joyner Outstanding Movie for everyone around the World. 5 stars
7/05/05 Brian Strilesky Eventually, as word travels, nearly everyone will end up seeing this amazing film. 5 stars
7/04/05 Ken Incredible movie. 5 stars
3/24/05 Rebekah Johnson Fabulous film! I loved it! Amazing footage and narration. 5 stars
1/27/05 lex Gidley Loved It!!! If it comes to America, it won't be a hit, but it is very entertaining. 5 stars
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  24-Jun-2005 (G)
  DVD: 29-Nov-2005



[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Luc Jacquet

Written by
  Luc Jacquet
  Michel Fessler

  Morgan Freeman

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