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From amusement to awe January 8, 2007

Posted by sensawunda in Movies.

March of the Penguins

I may be the last person in the country to have seen this documentary, but that’s OK, I’m still going to comment.

At the beginning, my husband was saying, “Penguins are so funny….” Pop culture caricatures penguins as the Weebles of the wild, waddling wobbily around igloos. Of course we learned a long time ago that penguins and igloos exist at opposite poles, but the goofy image persisted.

Until March of the Penguins. We watched, with growing awe, what emperor penguins endure to bring forth the next generation. We forgot the caricatures and gained respect for these animals that know only cold and colder. We saw exactly what they’re up against… and what can go wrong. I think we felt what Aristotle called catharsis.

I kept marveling at all the instincts God programmed into them just to get eggs and chicks through the Antarctic winter. I almost wondered why He bothered with such a difficult task. Why put animals there at all, where an egg or chick can freeze to death in a matter of minutes, where the parents have to fast for weeks and then walk for miles when it’s finally time to eat? Perhaps to show that not only can he take care of the sparrow, but he can take care of birds who live among snow and ice 365 days a year. I guess I won’t complain next time it takes my car heater fails to warm up my toes before I get to work.

I believe the sense of wonder comes partly in the catharsis of watching the hazards and privations penguins endure (and sometimes don’t survive), and partly in having our old perceptions upended.




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