A shove in the back - that’s the image to remember from this film. The emperor penguins of Antarctica seem to understand that they are in the harshest environment on the planet, and they move in a tight phalanx, using their numbers to maximum advantage whenever possible. They are not shy about nudging, shoving, and barking orders. No dawdling is permitted, and the most striking visual captured by the camera crew is a single penguin, dismissed from the collective, as he walks off alone into the blinding white nothing of the Arctic blast furnace.
Before I went to the screening for March of the Penguins Thursday night, the only thing I had written in my notes was "Will they get in the way of the penguins?" Any attempts to personify or otherwise create a narrative for this film would surely make the whole business unendurable. Anthropomorphism is almost always the kiss of death for an animal movie. But it’s hard to avoid when you’re dealing with creatures who walk upright on two squat legs and, from a short distance, would make a stranded Antarctican traveler think he was saved.