Sunday, July 31, 2005

Everyone loves an Emperor Penguin...

"Today I went to court for a speeding ticket in which i should have lost my lisence. Amazingly we got it pusehd down to a non-moving violation and a $110 fine. Hoorah right? well everyone gets what they deserve because i go home and realize that i left my purse at the court house. Went back, its gone. So i get to keep my lisence [sic] but not really becasue someone took it upon themself to keep it for me. So i find a package on my front steps which is a gift from my aunt. I open it and inside is cookies (which make me feel slightly better) and a card and a present. I open the card first which contains $40 and makes me feel slightly compensated since that was in my wallet, whcih was stolen. I laugh to myself because i dont have a wallet to put it in. Then i open the present, which is a purse. Irony is a bitch."

I mujst admit--this story fucking kills me. One, because it's one of my favorite people in the world telling it; two, because it's so damn TRUE.

But irony doesn't have a whole lot to do with the Emperor Penguin. I quote this story because it illustrates an interesting point about people. We just HAVE to talk about our shit, don't we? No matter what is going on; no matter how monumental (or insignificant) the issues are--we just GOTTA bring our "unique" vision to the fore.

But penguins don't.

I saw March of the Penguins tonight (as if you hadn't guessed). What an astouding fucking film. Astounding for two reasons. Let me addres the "bigger" one first.

This movie is deeply, deeply affecting. We care about these penguins. Not because they have names, not because they remind us of a childhood friend, but because they are honest. And pure. To appreciate a film like this you need, among other things, an ability to understand metaphor. An ability to look at the "forest" and not the "trees". Yeah, yeah. They're penguins. Why should I give a shit? Because these birds exemplify everything that is great about humanity. Look at what they do. Why they do it. What they must endure to succeed. Every two weeks we have some dumbass after school special about the "indomitable human spirit". Well, people--we got NOTHING on these freaking birds.

They walk to and from the ocean. Five or six times. SEVENTY MILES to and from the ocean. Sure, that isn't much, we think. Until we wrap our brains around this concept...seventy miles. In -80 (withOUT windchill) weather. When you're taking a stride of 6 inches at a time. After you haven't eaten in 125 days. And why? To keep their chick alive.

This film is about what Emperor Penguins do, every year, to reproduce. Summarized like that it doesn't sound like much. But seeing it makes it amazing. It's more affecting, and tear-jerking, and beautiful, than ALMOST ANY FILM that sets out to do as much. And why?

Because it doesn't try. Because the plight of these birds, and the images of what they endure, is so emotional and so real that it doesn't need a script. When you watch these animals, you see the best in all of us. You see thier triumphs, in the successful transfer of an egg from the female to the male. You see their failure, and the hearbreak that results, when that same transfer fails and the egg freezes and dies. You see two animals find one another and link together. I don't know if it's "love" as we know it, but the image is astonishing and poetic and beautiful. There is so much beauty and "soul" in this film that I don't quite know how to address it. Watching the odds they struggle against, and the tenacity with which they survive, we realize that penguins, and all other living creatures, are capable of great things. Life and death and the nature of humanity--all in a movie about PENGUINS. Who woulda thought?

The second reason the film is amazing: technique. The film is full of jaw-dropping shots of the birds and their surroudings. How the crew got such footage is beyond me (end-credit sequence nonwithstanding) and I'd like to keep it that way. Filmed on location and full of amazing close-ups. Just go see the damn thing.

And ladies, no matter HOW cute you may be: drive the speed limit. Because your sob-story about the ticket pales in comparison to a 70 mile hike across a frozen tundra to find food after giving birth.

Maybe you should try that story on the cop...


Vatter With A Different Plug said...

I've vaguely curious as to who this ironic-purse-carrying person is, but I feel that that would be rude and prying. Therefore, I will discuss those delightful flightless birds which were the subject matter of a great book called Mr. Popper's Penguins. Fine piece of literature, that.

I've been wanting to see the movie you mentioned but I won't actually name because I'm too lazy to do the italics tag. It just looks delightful, and honestly, who doesn't like penguins? Even Bender from Futurama does. He thought he was one once. So did I, but that's a tale for another day. And honestly, who the hell doesn't love Morgan Freeman.

By the way, I think I'll try that tundra-hiking story on a cop, just to see how quickly I get arrested.


Anonymous said...

ooh-hoo, jackie blue

lives her life from inside of a room

hides that smile when she's wearin' a frown

ooh jackie, you're not so down

you like your life in a free-form style

you'll take an inch but you'd love a mile

there never seems to be quite enough

floating around to fill your lovin' cup

ooh-hoo, jackie blue

what's a game, girl, if you never lose

ask a winner and you'll prob'bly find

ooh jackie, they've lost at sometime

don't try to tell me that you're not aware

of what you're doing and that you don't care

you say it's easy, just a nat'ral thing

like playing music but you never sing

ooh-hoo, jackie blue

making wishes that never come true

going places where you've never been

ooh jackie, you're going again

ooh-hoo, jackie blue

likes a dream that can never come true

making love is like siftin' through sand

ooh jackie, it slips through your hand

ev'ry day, in your indigo eyes

I watch the sun set but I don't see it rise

moonlight and stars in your strawberry wine

you'd take the world but you won't take the time

ooh-hoo, jackie blue

lives her life from inside of a room

makes you think that her life is a drag

ooh jackie, what fun you have had

ooh jackie, ooh jackie

ooh jackie, ooh jackie

hey, hey, hey, hey

honeykbee said...

Wait, Bender's not in March of the Penguins?

Forget it.

Anonymous said...

that was the worst day of my life.

Anonymous said...

You haven't written about our "de" plan like you said you would...

Anonymous said...

I am so inspired now.

Anonymous said...

Hey JG,

Thought you might appreciate this article:

It's relevant to you passionate discussion of penguins, so do check it out.


Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...
I am so inspired now. "

If that is YOU G,


Vatter (again) said...

In response to that lovely Onion article, I think now everyone can see why I'm terrified that the live-action Transformers movie is going to end badly.

(Bay is directing.)

Anonymous said...

i find it somewhat amusing that an english teacher canot spell license.


how is life?