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"March of the Penguins" Movie Review

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


MPAA Rating: G
Genre: Documentary
Runtime: 80 minutes

"March of the Penguins" Plot Summary:

Presented by Warner Independent Pictures and National Geographic Feature Films, the independent film “March of the Penguins” won enough acclaim from moviegoers to crossover to mainstream theaters. The film was directed by French filmmaker Luc Jacquet, and his powerful documentary has touched the hearts of audiences all over the world. For good reason, the film has become especially popular with children and families.

Morgan Freeman narrates this real-life story about the Emperor Penguin’s journey to create and sustain new life. The cameras follow the arduous trek the penguins make to their breeding grounds each year (as far as 70 miles) in order to find a mate and create a child. Enduring exhausting travel, starvation, and danger from predators, the male and female take turns guarding the egg and baby chick for a period of several months. The film beautifully captures the funny, sad, scary, and endearing moments that occur in the remote Arctic, where we would never otherwise be able to travel.

Note to Parents on "March of the Penguins":

The narration of the documentary is as much a work of art as the story itself. Especially good for children, the prose of the documentary generally employs phrases like, “fade away” and “disappear” in place of harsher phrases regarding death. The narrator also points out specific examples of the penguins’ devotion to their children, and the bond that is created between mother, father, and child.

The film does contain some scenes that may be disturbing to children, though. As in real life, the endings are not always happy. Some penguin chicks die despite the parents’ best efforts to protect them. Also, moments of peril are briefly shown which may scare children. When I saw the movie, I could hear a few children in the theater begging predators to leave the penguins alone.

The subtitle of the film, “Love Finds a Way,” characterizes the approach taken in telling this amazing story. The photographers capture tender moments between penguin parents and their offspring that are so beautiful and full of emotion, it is hard to believe they are real. This stunning documentary provides a rare opportunity for children and adults alike to learn about these amazing creatures, and it is impossible not to fall in love with them.

"March of the Penguins" Content Overview:

The following lists some of the most prominent examples of possibly offensive content in the movie:

Violence (Medium)
-A seal grabs a mother penguin in its jaws and swims away.
-A predator bird is shown biting at baby penguins.
-A mother penguin's baby dies, and she tries to steal another penguin's chick.

Sex/Nudity (Very Low)
-Two penguins are shown mating, but younger children will not be able to tell anything is going on.

Profanity (None)

Alcohol/Drugs (None)

Bad/Disrespectful Behavior (None)

Scary Scenes (Medium)
-The scenes involving predators may be scary or disturbing to young children.

Sad/Distressing Scenes (Medium)
-Some penguins' eggs freeze and don't survive.
-One frozen baby chick is shown briefly.
-A mother penguin pecks at her lifeless baby, and the narrator talks about her sorrow.

Discuss "March of the Penguins" with Your Family:

  • The penguin parents endure many hardships and make difficult sacrifices for their chicks. Why do they make these sacrifices? Do human parents make sacrifices for their children? Why is the film subtitled “Love Finds a Way”?
  • What lessons can we learn from the penguins’ perseverance?
  • What was it like for the filmmakers and crew to document the penguins’ trek in Antarctica?
  • After watching the movie, children may have questions about animals mating, death, predators, or animals’ feelings.
  • Learn more about Antarctica and the animals that inhabit the South Pole. See coolantarctica.com for fun facts and pictures.
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