“March of the Penguins,” the beloved documentary that went on to make a splash at the Academy Awards, turned 10 years old on Wednesday.
Narrated by Morgan Freeman, the nature doc followed the annual migration, mating and parenting patterns of a group of emperor penguins in Antarctica. It won best documentary feature at the 78th Academy Awards, beating “Murderball” and “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.”
“Looking out on these tuxedos tonight, it’s like seeing the movie again,” producer Yves Darondeau said in his Oscar speech.
Luc Jacquet, director of the film, added: “I’d like to dedicate this statuette to all the children in the world who saw that movie. In 2041, they will decide to renew or not the treaty that protects Antarctica. I will, maybe the “March of the Penguins” will inspire them.”
It wasn’t just the critics who adored the feathered subjects. “March of the Penguins” racked up a domestic gross of $77 million and a worldwide total of $127 million, making it the second highest-grossing doc behind “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
Distributed by Warner Independent, “Penguins” opened wide on July 22, 2005.
The film originally featured French-language narration when it premiered at Sundance. For the American adaptation, Jordan Roberts made the bold decision to rework the presentation by eliminating the penguins’ dialogue.
“We came to the decision pretty early on that while there was an emotional component to these birds’ lives, it was moving too far to actually hear their thoughts and feelings,” Roberts told Variety in 2006.
Along with Freeman’s revered vocal performance, Roberts’ revision might have been a key factor in the doc’s critical success. Variety’s review called the U.S. version “more traditionally objective, with Freeman sounding the perfect notes of bemused wonderment and sympathetic seriousness while reading Jordan Roberts’ apt narration.”