Sunday, November 13, 2005


 LE:E  I woke up briefly this morning during that spooky minute of the night when the digital display of my clock radio shows my name upside down. My lovely wife and I had seen March of the Penguins and I was dreaming that I was on the outside of the group and the howling Antarctic wind was freezing off my tailfeathers. I was awake only for the few seconds it took to glance at the clock and tug back my share of the covers from my wife who may have been having a dream similar to mine except for involving more success at keeping warm.

If you haven't seen March of the Penguins yet I can highly recommend it. If, like me, you tend to wait to catch nice-to-see films at the second-run theater the time has come. It's a wonderful film and quite an accomplishment given the conditions under which it had to be made (midwinter in Antarctica.) Morgan Freeman's reading of the narration is very fine and the writing is quite good. They managed to make an engaging narrative out of their footage without excessively anthromorphizing their subjects.

The photography is uneven but always acceptable given the circumstances under which it was shot. In the underwater scenes, for instance, one is aware of the limitations of the video camera used by the robot that shot them -- but, on the other hand how often do you get to see penguins feeding under the Antarctic ice shelf? In the footage of the southern lights it was also apparent that they were right on the edge of what their equipment could do. But these are minor things that remind you that you are, after all, watching a documentary. Over all the cinematography was excellent, and at its best it was amazing. Especially delightful is the closeup photography of the birds. Emperor Penguins are astonishingly beautiful animals close up. One sees lots of photos and video that show the appealingly clumsy way they walk but the iridescence of their feathers is a revelation.

So, as I said, go see it if you haven't yet. But put another blanket on the bed.

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