Saturday, August 13, 2005

"March of the Penguins"


So I saw "March of the Penguins" today, and I have a few thoughts. The cinematography was excellent. But I guess with a backdrop like the South Pole, how could it not be excellent? The shiny black coat of the penguins provides the natural contrast to the white ice all around, and I really appreciated for a moment the wonderful colors and complementary imagery in nature. Morgan Freeman's narration was also excellent, as expected. I like to listen to his voice even more than James Earl Jones, but that's a completely different matter. . .

The documentary focuses on the struggles Emperor penguins go through to procreate. Their journey is really quite extraordinary, but then again, what animal's isn't? And it just reminds me that life is amazing -- that soft, fuzzy baby penguins and all other young are so worth it. So worth the energy expended to get them to the earth. I mean, oh -- the moment when we first see the baby penguin's little face is so . . . precious. I know, I know. Precious? Really? Yes, really. There is no other word for it. Children make life SO much fun! The minute the baby chicks entered the documentary, there was a vitality to the film that just wasn't there before. That's totally how it is with humans, too. (To read my previous post on babies, click here.)

What I would have liked even more, though, would be some detail on the Emperor penguin's home when he is not living on an ice cap and mating, but when he is in the sea "on summer holiday," as the documentarians put it. I suppose that would undercut the whole love theme of the film, though. So I'll just have to do my own research. . .

What's the one thing I disliked about the documentary? Well, as with all nature films, there was a scene in which we see a male and female penguin ummm, consummating? I know it's natural, and I guess there's a natural curiosity about how any animal copulates, as my mom puts it. But I don't think it's appropriate, really. I don't feel this way because I think sex is gross. I just think it's sacred and special, and just being human does not give us the right to film such a private act between two living things. Even for educational purposes. But heck, why would filmmakers consider that point, when they have no scruples about filming humans having sex either?

Anyway. That's how I feel about that. Onto my final thought. The documentary explores all of the struggles during the penguin mating season -- including the presence of predators. The leopard seal is one, and some kind of [flying] bird (I'm sorry; I forgot which.) is the other. They both feed on penguins, and when we see occurrences of each kind of predation, the effect is the same -- "Oh no! Those mean animals! How can they eat those penguins?!" And I noticed some gasps from the other people around me, and thought, "Isn't that interesting?" Interesting because we were all appalled. I was too. Why? The seal and the bird have to eat to survive as well. If we were to watch a documentary on the plight of the leopard seal, would we still think it's mean? No, probably not. Because hearing/watching someone's story makes humans sensitive. Understanding makes us feel. And I dunno; I just thought that was neat. I guess that's the whole point of being "cultured." Our awareness and understanding of others helps us view the world in perspectives other than our own. So the word that best describes this thought/feeling for me is the one that seems to describe every feeling for me lately: neat.

Thing I'm thankful for: my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints).

6 Comments:

Blogger Blake said...

Lindsey and I really liked this movie. It was a bit slow, but an excellent documentary.

My Review

10:40 AM  
Blogger Tracey said...

Hi, I took my 7 year old son. Neither of us noticed the sex, but we definitely noticed the seal. What I didn't know was that it was a documentary, so going in I was expecting something else. It would be okay on the discovery channel but not for movie theater consumption. I'd recommend it for older children. The seal and the frozen cracked eggs and baby stealing attempt were disturbing to my son and me! I enjoyed the wedding pictures. Congratulations to Eve. Happy August 15th 2005

3:25 PM  
Blogger Tracey said...

Hi, I took my 7 year old son. Neither of us noticed the sex, but we definitely noticed the seal. What I didn't know was that it was a documentary, so going in I was expecting something else. It would be okay on the discovery channel but not for movie theater consumption. I'd recommend it for older children. The seal and the frozen cracked eggs and baby stealing attempt were disturbing to my son and me! I enjoyed the wedding pictures. Congratulations to Eve. Happy August 15th 2005

3:25 PM  
Blogger W G Anderson said...

I find it interesting that you could draw back and look at the predation of the penguins from a rational point of view (as you point out, the seals are not evil, it is there place in the natural order to eat the penguins, just as it is the penguins place to eat those poor little fish, struggling to survive in the icy waters) but not from the sexual intercourse of the penguins. The penguins almost surely do not think that their sexual relations are private and sacred - the animals on the farm I grew up on didn't seem to think so either.

Sex is a survival imperative for them, just as eating is. It is not laden with all the psycho-emotional baggage that humans and, in particular, the Judeo-Christian ethos, lay upon it.

To conclude, to those who don't want to see animals having sex (or eating other animals, or whatever), I certainly do not wish to force you to. But I sure hope we, as a society, don't feel a need to stop observing nature as it is because we feel it is not "appropriate". Nature is what it is. If you are a creationsit, it is what God created to be. I, for one, am not embarassed to see it, in all its glory, and I would like very much to be allowed to, in person and on film.

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Summer said...

I love Morgan Freeman's voice, too.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

My response to W G Anderson -- I respect and appreciate your feedback, so thanks. I realize there is some disconnect in my opinions, but what I wrote is how I feel. And I'm sorry I can't explain it any better than how I already did. Maybe I will think about it some more and write a post script. . .

12:32 AM  

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