March of the Penguins: Love
The word “love” is a familiar term to all, defined as an intense feeling of deep affection. Can the emotion of love be encompassed in a film about tuxedo ridden birds? March of the Penguins, directed by Luc Jacquet, is an elegant and enlightening display of how penguins sacrifice a year of their lives in the hopes of carrying on their species, all while the film also has an underlying theme of love. The theme of love throughout the film is revealed with two specific techniques: anthropomorphism and emotional appeal to the audience.
One might look at a penguin and think that it is incapable of feeling love, but it really depends on how one translates the emotion. Love is interpreted in two ways: feeling romantically towards someone, or feeling deeply affectionate towards something/someone. It’s debated whether a penguin can really feel romantic towards another penguin, but that still leaves a feeling of deep affection, and through observation it is clear that penguins are fully competent when it comes to that side of love. Love also refers to the needs for attachment and wanting to reproduce, with is something felt by all animals. Lacquet made an effort to show the connection between penguins, both through male and females, as well as adult penguins and their offspring. In the film, both the father and mother penguin had an indisputable connection with their egg, which one saw by observing the interactions between them. Love seemed to be primarily felt by the parents and their baby, exhibited as the familiar call between father and child, and then again the potential deep remorse felt by a penguin parent once realizing their child didn’t make it. So perhaps penguins don’t feel romantically towards one another, but they do have a tendency to grow awfully fond, nurturing, and deeply affectionate instead.
Anthropomorphism is the concept of any object or thing to have human behaviors, or resemble a human in any way shape or form. Although it’s been established that penguins don’t necessarily love on a romantic level, that doesn’t change how the audience might view the love nonetheless. Humans feel love, and experience it both romantically as well as in the more generic way. To a viewer, it was easy to simply take the connection between the penguins and look at it as if it were romantic. The idea is just the same as any other story where two animals, or even random inanimate objects, fall “in love.” Lacquet filmed in a way to create an atmosphere of love, but it was up to the viewer to see it. The documentary built the atmosphere of love by emphasizing the relationships of the penguins, and then filming it in ways to embellish it. The image of a heart is globally known as the symbol of love, and was recreated during the scenes of two penguins standing close, beaks facing downward but touching each others. The heart formation between two penguins accentuates the theme of love in an artistic way.
The emotional appeal within the film is another way that the film is about love. The emotional appeal parallels greatly with anthropomorphism. From a viewer’s perspective, the idea of love was displayed in several ways. In the beginning of the film, viewers saw the penguins searching for a mate, just the same way humans do. The penguins in the film were also displayed in an adorably likable way, causing the viewer to feel love for the species. With that liking for the penguins already established, viewers saw the film in a new light, now invested in the welfare of the penguins. Another more anthropomorphic attribute of the film, but emotionally appealing, was the parent and the penguin. Seeing the way the parents do whatever it takes for their baby, the audience was reminded of the love they feel for their own children, or perhaps for their parents.
March of the Penguins is a film about love. As narrated by Morgan Freeman in the introduction “this is love story,” and that it is. The motif of love is conveyed in many ways, whether that be by definition of love itself, an emphasis on anthropomorphism, or by the emotion of love expressed by the viewers. Overall, Jacquet did a terrific job to incorporate love in his film, doing the perfect combo of filming love as well as making his audience feel it too.