Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22 worldwide. Debuting in 1970, Earth Day now includes events in more than 193 countries, which are coordinated globally within the Earth Day Network. Opening April 17, Penguins will give you a jump on that special day, as it celebrates a specific species like how other Disneynature documentaries have done in the past, namely African Cats, Bears and Chimpanzees.
Disneynature’s all-new feature film “Penguins” is a coming-of-age tale about an Adélie penguin named Steve who joins millions of his fellow males in the icy Antarctic spring. This protagonist is on a quest to build a home, find a suitable mate and begin his life as a father. As simple as it sounds, none of this comes easy for Steve, particularly considering he's targeted by everything from killer whales to leopard seals, who unapologetically threaten his happy-ever-after goal.
The Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) is a species of penguin common along the entire coast of the Antarctic continent, which is their only residence. They are the most widely spread penguin species, as well as the most southerly distributed of all penguins, along with the emperor penguin. They are named after Adélie Land, in turn named for Adèle Dumont d'Urville, the wife of French explorer Jules Dumont d'Urville, who discovered these penguins in 1840.
Directors Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Willson focus on this species facing the harsh conditions of the Antarctic continent's spring/summer season. However, instead of loading up this documentary with scientific factoids and terminology, they offer up a touching narrative that takes the audience along this "underdog hero's journey."
From Silly to Serious
According to Variety movie critic, Courtney Howard , "since the film oscillates from silly to serious as the delightful and dire situations unfold, narrator Ed Helms finds a brilliant balance between his penguin protagonist’s wistful, childlike naïveté and the burgeoning bluster and machismo necessary for survival."
"From bachelor to partner to father, Steve’s protective nature develops over the course of the feature. . . (as) a loveable goofball along that journey, building a character out of Steve’s trials and travails, while emphasizing that arc," adds Howard.
While climate change is never mentioned in this film, it's looming silence is present. While watching this documentary, viewers can't help but empathize with how difficult it must be for fragile creatures to survive under the Earth's harsh climatic in the Antarctic. Howard underscores it aptly when she summarizes that "it's not a stretch to walk out of the theater pondering the ecological strain that pollution and warming seas are putting on their resources."
Primary Source: Variety