Four foot tall, flightless birds at the South Pole

We saw March of the Penguins on Thursday. It was great. The movie follows a group of emperor penguins on their incredible journeys between their breeding grounds and the sea.

The beauty and stark cold of Anarctica reflect the staggering wonder of this earth. But the part I liked best was the obvious love of the parents for their chicks, evident in the sacrifices that they make to have a family in Antarctica. (Father penguins fast for four months and lose half their body weight as they hatch their eggs — talk about dedication!)

As we watched the screen, I cuddled my own little penguin chicks close. And they had a good time. There are few things that make children giggle like pictures of cute, fluffy penguin chicks, bouncing and sliding and playing on the ice.

I haven’t seen a genuine whole-family film for a little while, and this one was quite good, so I thought I’d recommend it.

(Further information and trailer can be seen at the official site.

Warning — the film has two relatively brief intense (scary) scenes, one where a seal attacks some swimming penguins and one when a piant petrel attacks a group of penguin chicks. They were intense enough to make my 6-year-old tense up some and want to be held on my lap, but they were nowhere near as scary as many scenes from mainstream kid flicks like Finding Nemo or The Incredibles).

9 comments for “Four foot tall, flightless birds at the South Pole

  1. gst
    July 10, 2005 at 11:09 am

    If you are inclined to Antarctica stories, I’m reading and enjoying Adm. Byrd’s account of his mission to Advance Base. It was the first time anyone had spent the winter months in the interior of the continent. He was alone and cut off from Little America in a 9 by 7 hut for several months. It’s called “Alone.” My copy was published by Adventure Press, but I think the text is available online for free.

  2. Tom Johnson
    July 10, 2005 at 9:34 pm

    “In the harshest place on earth, love finds a way.” Thanks for the movie recommendation, Kaimi. I’ll have to take Avery (and Callie) to see it.

    I did see Madagascar the other week. It’s about animals who escape from the zoo to pursue a longing for freedom in the wild. I actually watched Madagascar after having spent the day at the real zoo, a juxtaposition that made me wonder whether the anthropomorphizing of animals in all these kids movies doesn’t have a dark side to it. The real zebras and rhinos and lions were quite boring in contrast to the talking ones.

    I see that the penguin movie is filmed like a documentary, not an animation. But do penguins really love each other so much that, despite all odds, their love will see them through to victory? I’m not sure why we always have to anthropomorphize everything in order to make it acceptable. I guess if you didn’t, it wouldn’t be much of a kids movie. Animals are only cute when they are human-like. The only movie I can think of that doesn’t anthropomorphize animals is The Bear, but it’s been years since I saw it, so I can’t remember it well.

    How about a movie made by animals in which humans are “animal-morphized”? You know, it’s so unthinkable there’s not even a word for that. Can you even imagine how such a movie would be? Take the black widow, for example. Doesn’t she kill her male after insemination? Or how about a movie that truly “lion-morphizes” humans, so that the plot involves humans establishing territory and chasing down others in gruesome kills? Oh wait, that’s The Godfather.

    It seems that animals can never exist in kids movies on their own terms. They must be humanized to be made endearing. I think this reaches into theories about otherness. The innocent kids movie probably instills deep-seated feelings in children to reject people on the playground who are different from their models of how people should be. That or it makes them naively approach dangerous animals in an attempt to befriend them. It’s probably nothing, but what is the impact of anthropormorphization in movies? I mean, my kid watches at least 3 movies a week like this.

  3. D. Fletcher
    September 12, 2005 at 11:50 pm

    Although tomorrow’s article in the Times claims this movie for conservatives everywhere, remember Kaimi’s previous thread about observed gay penguins, which are also everywhere:

    If there’s a grand design to our world, it certainly included animals with same-sex sexual behavior.

  4. Adam Greenwood
    September 13, 2005 at 12:02 am

    And people, D. Fletcher. Certainly that’s much more germane.

  5. Kaimi
    September 13, 2005 at 12:08 am

    I disagree that penguins represent a “right wing” conspiracy. After all, penguins very clearly have both right and left wings. Also, note that neither wing is even strong enough to allow them to fly. Penguins cannot be said to be dominated by the right wing or the left wing. Penguins are, by definition, moderates.


  6. D. Fletcher
    September 13, 2005 at 12:10 am


    which is not a penguin sound; apparently it’s more like a donkey bray, heHAW

  7. September 13, 2005 at 12:21 am

    I liked it when the baby penguins tripped and fell down.

  8. Kaimi
    September 13, 2005 at 12:45 am

    My six year old is still talking about the baby penguins. He just gets this big grin on his face and talks about how they’re like little fuzz balls. I’m sure he daydreams sometimes about owning a cute, fuzzy baby penguin. They’re like pillows with legs — what’s not to like?

  9. John Mansfield
    September 13, 2005 at 8:18 am

    Long ago, on another continent, shortly after I was transferred north darn it, the missionaries of Comodoro Rivadavia had a penguin living with them for several weeks. Quite a story.

    One quite morning, a kid downtown told the elders there was a sick penguin on the beach a short walk away. The oil-covered bird was taken to the elders’ apartment to clean it. They tried shampoo, which did no good, and then soap, which worked great. The penguin was weak so they brought fish for it until it was strong.

    When the penguin was restored to health, the elders took it back to the beach. It swam around a little, then came back to them to be picked up and taken home for more free fish. I’m not sure why they didn’t just leave it, but if you had a penguin asking to come home with you, what would you do?

    So the penguin became a fixture of their apartment. If the elders forgot to buy it fish for Sunday, it would become skinny and speedy. After downing 21 fish in one sitting, it would bulge and waddle. It would wake the elders in the morning to have the tub filled for a swim.

    It became known through the town that the Mormon missionaries had a penguin. Parents would bring their children to the apartment to meet the animal. Some people disapproved keeping a wild animal, but when they were told of the animal’s rescue they were appreciative and understanding.

    It was a burden, though, to clean up continually after a loose bird. Taking the penguin back to the beach never worked. Finally, it was handed over to a local marine institute.

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