Plucky penguins journey into heart of darkness
Luc Jacquet’s mini-epic is being hugely hyped as The Little Movie That Could – a surprising, endearing and cuddly underdog triumph Stateside, which could prove a pre-Christmas smash here before Narnia and Kong come out. It’s both sweet and powerful, but there’s a debt to compatriot Jean-Jacques Annaud’s similar animal studies The Bear and Two Brothers. It has more focus and artistry than 1996’s Microcosmos, but, like even the best wildlife docs, its novelty flags gradually, and snow blindness sets in.
In single file – that’s the funny thing – thousands of emperor penguins leave home to breed, during the harsh, sub-zero Antarctic winter. No other species can handle such conditions. Avuncular Morgan Freeman narrates as they trek seventy miles across ice and snow so the females can lay eggs. The males are then left on sentry duty for two months while the females trudge back to the ocean to carbo-load. All this heroism, so that the next generation can shout, “I hate you! I didn’t ask to be born!” Probably. Cute.
By Chris Roberts