March of the Penguins on the Hallmark Channel

Rather than bumping an old thread, I thought I’d start a new one, considering the only two threads I found dealt with whether the movie would be shown in IMAX and if it was too intense for a three year old. If I missed the “real” thread, my apologies.

I was struck by the incredible energy and resources that go into the breeding, and I started to wonder if it is efficient enough to keep the Emperor Penguins alive.


  1. There are more females than males, so not all the females will produce an egg
  2. Only one egg is produced
  3. Sometimes the egg does not survive the transfer from the mother to the father
  4. If the mother is killed on her trek to the sea to feed, the chick will starve, since the father will have to abandon it before he starves
  5. Sometimes the chick will freeze to death
  6. It appears (from the documentary) that chicks can be attacked and the mothers will do nothing to chase away the predator

I saw some wonderfully fat baby penguins waddling around, so it does appear that some chicks do survive the incredibly harsh winter, but is it enough to sustain the species? I know the documentary made the point that the Emperors have been doing it this way for thousands of years, but how big is the population, and is their breeding method under such harsh conditions enough to sustain it?

Well, from here

So I’d hazard a guess that their breeding method works just fine absent any sudden changes in their environment or ecosystem. Given that penguins only live a couple of decades, a shortfall in reproduction would show up pretty rapidly in a shrinking population.

It’s not as if each penguin gets only one chance to breed (like salmon). If a pair is unsuccessful at raising a chick one year, there’s always the next year.

I was struck by the beauty of the penguins. That orange streak on their bill is gorgeous! The harsh winter landscape was breathtaking, especially at sunset.

The 70 mile one-way trek seemed non-sensical to me, until the babies hatched and summer came, and the edge of the ice was only a few hunderd yards away. I was wondering how the chicks were going to make that long walk.

I wondered how the photographers survived, too. I was glad they showed that bit at the end. Lots of frostbite, it seems.

The penguins weren’t afraid of them! Amazing! If anything destroys the eco-system there, though, it will no doubt be the presence of humans.

But since each pair is monogamous for the season, and there’s only one egg, chances are the chicks born will not equal the number of current adults. There’s also more females than males, so many fertile females will not have a chance to lay an egg. Other birds have several chicks in a nest, but for the Emperors, it’s one, and chances are it won’t survive to waddle off to the sea.

They spend nine months tending to the mating, breeding, hatching, and caring for the chicks, and three months gorging themselves to do it all over again. The poor males go for nearly four months without eating. It’s a wonder the species has survived as long as it has.

Well, considering the incredibly harsh conditions, I don’t think humans can last there long enough to seriously muck anything up.

I was watching Planet Earth last night, and momma Humpback Whales fast for up to eight months while nursing to the tune of 500 litres a day :eek:

Well, in an environment where a footprint in moss can take a decade to fade away, you don’t need to be around very long to do a lot of damage. One big shipwreck or a few misplaced runs with a big trawl and you could wipe out several colonies very easily.

I was thinking about this, and I guess as long as the number of chicks born is equal to or greater than the number of adult penguins who die that season, it doesn’t matter how many eggs don’t make it.

I haven’t had a chance to watch this film yet but it sounds great. I picked it up at Target over the weekend for the sale price of $3.98.

I loved it, but I found the CGI effects to be cheesy, obvious, and distracting.

Thanks to slaphead for noting the lifespan, as that question was nagging at me the whole time I watched it. No breeding for 5 years, then maybe a dozen efforts at breeding before you die. Since two tend one baby at a time, each individual needs to succeed twice over an entire lifespan in order to sustain the population. With a dozen chances, that puts the minimum required success rate at about 17% per year, which seems reasonably attainable.

Someone mentioned that the mothers don’t defend the chicks from predators. I don’t think that’s true; I think by the time the bird shows up, they are grown enough to not be considered chicks anymore. The next scene was the adults abandoning the little ones to jump back in the ocean and start the cycle all over again.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen March of the Penguins, but what CGI effects are you talking about? I’ve seen the movie at the theater and on DVD, but I can’t remember any CGI effects at all.

We recorded it on my daughter’s Tivo this weekend, and kaylasmom thought the sound was kind of wonky. Did anybody else notice this?

I think he’s confusing it with this

Too me, the underwater shots (when the mothers went for food after laying the eggs) looked like bad CGI. Also, the first time we see a chick run and some of the shots of the original walk looked like decent (but still jarring) CGI.

But I couldn’t be positive, so I watched the credits:

Visual Effects by
Catherine Athon…head of digital post-production
Odile Beraud…scan and shoot (as Odile Béraud)
Benjamin Clément…2k operator
Gisèle Courcoux…scan and shoot
Armaud Damez…computer designer
Arnaud Damez…computer designer
Fabien Eigen…scan and shoot
Émilie Feret…digital special effects coordinator
Thierry Flament…computer designer
Sébastien Gombeau…computer designer
Luc Guénard…calibration
Sébastien Guyot…scan and shoot (as Sebastien Guyot)
Élodie Ichter…Lustre assistant
Laurent Jentot…computer designer
Christophe Keichinger…scan and shoot
Robert Kfoury…scan and shoot
Marc Latil…visual artist
Benjamin Massoubre…2k operator
Joyce Menger…head of digital special effects
David Montoya…scan and shoot
Frederic Moreau…head of digital special effects (as Frédéric Moreau)
Stéphane Praux…2K exploitation
Laetitia Roure…digital grading post-production coordinator
Gérard Soirant…scan and shoot (as Gerard Soirant)
Georges Tornero…digital artist
Karim Touzene…computer designer

Seems like an awful lot of visual effects credits for a movie without any CGI. I’m willing to believe that they CGI-ed out man-made stuff (or people) that occasionally crept into frame, and that a metric shitload of color normalization or whatever was necessary.

But some (not many, just some) of the penguin shots looked flat-out fake to me. And while the underwater sequences had the most blatant examples, some of the underwater shots looked real.

And “head of digital special effects” Joyce Menger appears to be a seasoned vet at visual effects.