Luc Jacquet's March Of The Penguins is, astoundingly, the second most successful documentary ever made. Some credit for its success must go to the photography, which is first class - the camera gets up, close and personal with the Antarctic's feathered stars. But let's face it, superb nature documentaries are ten a penny. The sentimental film's real appeal is weirdly political, particularly in America, where it has been held up as a shining example of family values and even, absurdly, as evidence of intelligent design.
Every winter, the Emperor Penguins of the Antarctic emerge from their ocean playground and trudge across 70 miles of ice floe to their breeding grounds. There, the males starve themselves for two months while balancing the new eggs on their feet, while the females walk back to the sea, grab some food and return to the stay-at-home dads. Then the dads pull on their hiking boots and waddle back to the sea. And so on. Man, penguins are idiots.
"SOOTHING, SENTIMENTAL NARRATION"
A chick flick on multiple levels, March offers the ultimate example of working mothers with a side-order of adorable little baby penguins for comic relief. Giggle as they slip around the tundra like drunken ice-skaters! Coo as they hide beneath their daddies' feathery skirts! Gasp in horror as they are swallowed whole by ravenous leopard seals!
The effect is somewhat spoiled by Morgan Freeman's soothing, sentimental narration, which coats the action like treacle over ice cream. Harder-hearted viewers are advised to bring ear plugs.