This December 2016 video is the French language trailer of the new film by Luc Jacquet, L’Empereur. In English March of the Penguins 2: The Call. It is a sequel to the earlier March of the Penguins documentary.
On 21 May 2017, I went to see this film about the life of emperor penguins in Antarctica.
The film concentrates on one penguin couple in an emperor nesting colony. They fall in love (for birds it is important that their partner is their own choice, not ‘arranged’ like often with caged birds, according to recent research). They have an elaborate mating dance, which makes it easier for them to recognize each other later among the thousands of penguins in the colony.
After the female lays an egg, she has to transfer it to the male’s feet to keep it warm. Then, the egg has to roll across the ice. If that takes too long, the cold may kill the embryo. Then, the hungry female leaves for months to feed in the ocean, which she reaches after a long and arduous walk. The male meanwhile tries to keep the egg alive; not easy during winter storms.
Then, a baby penguin is born. Its father does not have much food for it. Everything depends on the return in time of the mother. When she arrives, the father will transfer the baby to the mother’s feet for keeping it warm. Like transferring eggs, this is risky: the vulnerable young penguin should not be on the ice for the transfer for too long.
Now, the hungry father can leave to the ocean to feed, and find food for the baby. He sometimes, to get there, has to walk scores of kilometers, sometimes a hundred (depending on ice extent), across difficult areas with steep slopes, pointed rocks and fracturing ice. Later, the young penguin becomes so big, needing more food, that both parents have to go to the ocean together, instead of one staying with the youngster.
Finally, the emperor penguin son will have to walk to the sea himself. First, his mother leaves. He follows his father for a few miles; then, he is in a group of young penguins all wanting to go the ocean they have never seen.
The film has spectacular views of the penguins swimming underwater, up to 600 meter deep.
There are not many other Antarctic animals in the film. No whales (most not dangerous, but killer whales are a danger to swimming penguins). No seals (leopard seals are a danger to swimming penguins). A fleeting view of a snow petrel flying past (not named). The bigger relative of the snow petrel, the giant petrel is named and shown trying to catch a young penguin; which fails. The only other penguin species nesting as far south as emperor penguins, the smaller Adelie penguin, is shown a few times, including in a quarrel on the coast with young emperor penguins hesitating whether they will swim in the ocean for the first time ever.
The film does not go into how climate change may damage emperor penguins, except in its last sentence, saying that emperor penguins have lived for millions of years, and will continue for millions more ‘if we [humans] behave ourselves’. Maybe a bit surprising, such a short mention, as director Luc Jacquet in 2015 made the film La glace et le ciel (English: Ice and the Sky) about global warming, focusing on French Antarctic researcher Claude Lorius.
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