'March of the Penguins'

Winner! Best Spiritual Documentary 2006

In the race for Best Spiritual Documentary,

there was no contest: Beliefnet's community and our panel of experts voted overwhelmingly for "March of the Penguins." The distant second-place winner for both groups was "Mad Hot Ballroom."

Below, you can read our panelists' debate about this film, or you can read what the Idol Chatter blog 

said about it



The Case For
The second highest-grossing documentary ever (right behind “Fahrenheit 9/11”) also was easily the most inspiring documentary in recent memory. No one predicted that “March of the Penguins,” which documents a year in the lives of a community of emperor penguins in the Antarctic, would become celebrated for its depiction of the fragile yet intricate mating rituals of these magnificent creatures. Many conservative Christians as well as others in the religious community have pointed to the movie as an argument for Intelligent Design, and, indeed, it doesn’t seem as if there is anything random about the details of these penguins’ lives as they march across frozen tundra and make enormous sacrifices to fulfill their purpose to bring the next generation into the world.


But the documentary is moving for other reasons, as well. Intellectual arguments aside, there are plenty of other spectacular moments in the movie worthy of  spiritual reflection. The brutal, yet also beautiful, scenery of the frigid Antarctic serves as an awe-inspiring look at  a unique side of creation. The fact that the penguins triumph (for the most part) over these unbelievably adverse conditions, and they do so only by living in close community with each other is just as amazing a life lesson as the interaction between mother, father, and newborn baby penguin is an affirmation of family bonds.  So while in the words of an old Disney cartoon, "There's nothing so peculiar as a penguin, unless it's you and I," perhaps there’s also nothing as surprisingly inspirational as a penguin, either.
--By Kris Rasmussen
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