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Subject: Everybody Loves 'Penguins' !!! : )

Written By: Hairspray on 07/04/05 at 11:03 am

Everybody Loves 'Penguins'

Who doesn't like penguins? You'll be hard pressed to find anyone not impressed with the difficult life of the emperor penguin, especially after viewing the expertly handled new documentary "March of the Penguins."

Debuting to fantastic box office in New York last weekend and opening around the country this month, "March" shows the arduous journey male and female penguins take to mate, protect their baby egg from the elements and then bring that baby penguin safely into the world. It was filmed over 13 months in freezing Antarctica by filmmaker Luc Jacquet and his adventurous crew. According to Jacquet, the hardest part of the shoot wasn't getting the penguins to cooperate, but getting Mother Nature to.

"The only reason we could do this and survive is that we had the French scientific station there," Jacquet says, speaking to a few members of the press last month. "So, at the end of the day, we had a place where we could go and recover and recuperate and really be in a warm and safe environment. It was about 800 meters from the emperor penguin colony. On a good day, it would take us 20 minutes to get there; if it was ferociously bad it could take us three hours to get there."

The French scientific station has been operational for 60 years. That means the penguins are used to having men in orange jumpsuits wandering around the ice. They don't have any fear of humans and on a few occasions they actually mistook Jacquet's crew for possible husbands or wives.

"There was a type of courtship dance that was going on. They were looking us over as possible mates," Jacquet says with a laugh. "But because we're serious people, we decided not to respond to them."

The line between scientific observer and compassionate nature lover was always tough to follow for the crew, even when the penguins' chicks were in danger of dying. In the tough Antarctic temperatures, if one of the parents loses their egg from the warmth of their belly, it can crack and freeze within minutes, a chilling fact chronicled in the movie.

"If you were to intervene in any way, it would absolutely terrify them and it would be counterproductive," Jacquet says. "I believe you have to follow the ethics of non-intervention, because any gesture or any action by a human being will have an enormous impact in their world. As long as you respect that barrier of distance so they aren't threatened, they really won't pay any attention to you."

On a more cheerful note, did any of the penguins act up to the camera?

"No, they are definitely not L.A. penguins," Jacquet says, laughing. "They never did anything to get us to shoot them."

"March of the Penguins" is now playing in limited release.

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