"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...