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Marching on Thin Ice: The Politics of Penguin Films


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Leane, E and Pfennigwerth, S 2011 , 'Marching on Thin Ice: The Politics of Penguin Films', in E Leane and C Freeman and Y Watt (eds.), Considering Animals: Contemporary Case Studies in Human-Animal Relations , Ashgate, Farnham, Surrey, pp. 29-40.

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"Animals are at the centre and yet simultaneously missing from two bestselling films discussed in Elizabeth Leane and Stephanie Pfennigwerth's essay. Emperor penguins are the ostensible stars of the most successful nature documentary ever made, "March of the Penguins," but the film's unexpected embrace by conservative religious groups meant that it was not the birds themselves, but the degree to which their actions paralleled human behaviour (particularly parenting methods), that drew attention. The film's mythologically inflected construction of a penguin colony, which emphasizes its timelessness and eschews mention of either evolutionary adaptation or human interference, means that the threat of global warming to the birds' well-being is entirely ignored. The highly successful animated film "Happy Feet", released the following year, brought home the environmental message, which seemed a corrective to "March of the Penguins." Yet Leane and Pfennigwerth show that the film's narrative conservatism prevents a coherent moral from emerging. The two films are, they conclude, 'united in their inability to go beyond the symbolic animal.'"
(Taken from the Introduction to "Considering Animals", p.6).

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Leane, E and Pfennigwerth, S
Keywords: Human-animal relations Human-animal studies Animal studies Penguins Happy Feet March of the Penguins
Publisher: Ashgate
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Copyright 2011 Ashgate

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