Arctic Tale (Paramount Vantage, G)

arctic1All of this is quite compelling and reminds the audience how unfortunate and challenged the animals are. To keep children interested and amused, the filmmakers give the animals human emotions and even a scene of flatulent walruses.

 

 

 

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The main focus of Arctic Tale (which comes from the producers of March of the Penguins) is to convince the youth of America what An Inconvenient Truth tried to convince their parents: global warming is a serious issue that affects all of us, from people to animals, and something must be done. Where the two films differ most notably, aside from the age focus and presentation, is whereas Truth used statistics, facts and research, Arctic Tale uses an emotional appeal and humor because of the demographic at which they are aiming.

With Queen Latifah as the storyteller, the film is a beautifully shot tribute to the brutal conditions that the animals of the North Pole must endure as a part of their daily lives. The filmmakers, Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson, focus on two very different animals as their main characters: Seela, the walrus, and Nanu, the polar bear. We watch their first steps or swim and follow them as they grow older and learn to defend themselves and forage for food. Seela and Nanu encounter harsh conditions as their world changes and they face a new world that their mothers and families are not prepared to handle.

Marketed as a "wildlife adventure," the film is an amalgamation of documentary, fiction and public awareness. Ravetch and Robertson are up front with the fact that, though the Seela and Nanu in the film are only eight years old at the end, the animals are actually composites of several different polar bears and walruses shot over a 15-year period of filming. The husband and wife team spent months at a time in the bitter cold using long-lens photography to get the animals in their natural habitats without being intrusive. For the action and interactions that had to be up close, the filmmakers spent time with the animals to show the inner workings of their world.

The scenery and cinematography are beautiful and the story Ravetch and Robertson have crafted is endearing and effective. It's fascinating to watch these two young animals as they struggle in an environment that is constantly changing and that their training and instincts are not sufficient. We watch as they swim hundreds of miles in the open ocean seeking food, only to find very little or none at all. The ice which both the walrus and the polar bear depend on is rapidly shrinking and reforming later and later each year.

All of this is quite compelling and reminds the audience how unfortunate and challenged the animals are. To keep children interested and amused, the filmmakers give the animals human emotions and even a scene of flatulent walruses. There is also a wonderful score mixed with pop music to keep the film light enough for the young viewers' tastes. Arctic Tale is fun to watch, but there is a message here and the filmmakers work hard to make sure you know what it is. |Matthew F. Newlin

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