March of the Penguins

Director: Luc Jacquet
Screenwriters: Michel Fessler, Luc Jacquet

Institute History


The Emperor's Journey has all the classic elements of an epic—insurmountable odds, conquering heroes, loving couples, and radiant beauty. It introduces some of the bravest and most memorable characters to ever grace the silver screen…they just happen to be penguins.

With short steps, bent beneath a violent snowstorm, the emperor penguins labor through a vast labyrinth of ice. The valiant birds never falter; undaunted by overwhelming obstacles and guided by instinct, they head unerringly for their traditional breeding ground where—after a ritual courtship of intricate dances and delicate maneuvering, accompanied by a cacophony of ecstatic song—they will pair off into monogamous couples and mate. But all of this drama marks only the first chapter of their incredible adventure.

Filmed in Super 16mm to convey the full visual impact of the birds' magnificent environment (including never-before captured underwater footage of the penguins' winter activities), The Emperor's Journey is a triumph of documentary filmmaking. In an accomplishment rivaling that of the penguins, director Luc Jacquet and his crew endured the Antarctic winter for 13 months with no access to sea or air transportation. Their bravery enabled them to document on film one of the greatest heroic sagas of all time.

— Trevor Groth

Screening Details

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