This is a French movie that can easily be localized (dubbed into native language). The only speaking part is the narrator. For the US, this is Morgan Freeman. Morgan does a pretty good job with the material, but not much is required of the narrator. The plot is not really written, but filmed. We watch one year in the reproductive cycle of the emperor penguin. All five year old and older penguins come up from the ocean and begin a migration to the middle (some 70 miles). In the middle is the thickest ice and the ancestoral breeding grounds for the penguins. They pair off, mate, and an egg is delivered. The female entrusts the egg to the male so that she can return to the ocean and feed. She has lost 1/3 of her mass in the birthing and must eat soon. The remaining male penguins must accomodate an egg on top of their feet and underneath a fatty overhang from their stomach. They live like this for nearly four months. When the females come back, the males have been through a brutal winter. The females bring food and in a handoff, take over the very young chick and keep them on top of their feet. The males have lost over 1/2 of their mass and some may not make it back to the sea to feed. From here the young chicks grow and the parents alternate trips to the ocean. As the weather warms, the edge of the ocean is closer and closer. Eventually, the young chicks make it to the edge and return to the water, but at five years of age, they too will return to this pattern.
The directorial choices are all clear and consistent. The director chooses to show some of the perils and deaths of the tribe of penguins. It is hard not to see these upright creatures as some sort of explorer and the opening shots accomplish this.
The music is a little goofy. It is neither pure classical or well thought out modern music. It sits somewhere in between.
All in all, this is a movie version of familiar stuff from either IMAX, National Geographic, or PBS; but it is very good on the big screen.
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