March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step (2017) - full transcript

A young penguin, driven by his instinct, embarks on his first major trip to an unknown destination.

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MARCH OF THE PENGUINS 2: THE CALL

The story of this emperor is unequaled

among all the wonders of nature.

It is the story of a life
that is all the more extraordinary

because it took place in a landscape so hostile

that none of us could survive
more than a few hours.

The emperor was born 40 years ago
in a place called Oamock,

a small bay nestled between
4 islands on the edge of Antarctica.

At dawn, after a smooth journey,
the emperor reached Oamock,

the place where his kind have always gathered.

Each time he returns from the sea,



the emperor always has the same problem:
Finding his chick.

A needle in a haystack: They are all alike.

To find his chick,
every ten steps he calls to it.

Every minute that passes reduces
the chances of finding his chick.

Can he have failed so close to his goal?

He feels he lacks the strength
to face another winter.

He and his partner have struggled
for months to keep him alive.

The struggle began in the early days,
five months ago.

His partner had just laid a magnificent egg.

She was keen to entrust it to the emperor

in order to go and feed at sea
as soon as possible.

But between them was a patch of ice
on which they had no choice

but to roll the egg from one to the other.

If the egg spent more than
20 seconds on the ground,



the embryo inside would die for sure.

Just in time.

Even before being born,

the chick in his fragile shell
had faced his first great trial.

But let's return to the emperor,
who is still looking for his chick.

Two voices in the crowd interrupt his quest.

His chick is here, and there's a nice surprise,

the emperor's partner is here also.

All three have experienced so many adventures.

To see them now, it's hard to imagine
what they've lived through.

Perhaps the most crucial moment in their story

took place a few months before,
with temperatures around - 40°C.

The emperor and his companions
were huddling for warmth.

He, who hadn't eaten for 4 months, stood fast:

His egg was close to hatching.

The emperor was experienced enough
not to lose his egg,

which was not the case for everyone.

He stood without weakening,

in winds that would
knock you down in a single gust.

The emperor knew his chick
had hatched and was hungry.

And he felt that he too
was at the end of his strength.

But his mother was late:

She was due back to feed the chick.

As if to aggravate matters,
it hadn't snowed for days.

The emperor and his companions
were dying of thirst.

Drunk from fatigue,

they moved around on Oamock
to find some clean snow,

not too frozen, so as to quench their thirst.

Males everywhere lacked the strength
to wait for their chicks to hatch.

The least experienced among them gave up.

The emperor knew well the internal
signals telling him to leave,

to abandon his chick.

His intuition had told him
to make one last effort.

The emperor had given him his last meal,

preserved inside him
after 4 months without food.

And his partner had returned.

What a reunion!

She with her white plumage washed by the ocean,

and he, the emperor,
with his bedraggled feathers,

soiled, worn out by the weeks on the ice floe.

They passed the chick over
as calmly as possible.

This chick was truly a survivor.

Today, their chick is here, very much alive,

a little groggy from overeating.

They've been separated
by the many trips to the sea

to satisfy their chick's insatiable appetite.

How do they maintain a schedule,

despite the weeks of separation?

To solve the mystery,
we must go back nine months

to when the couple had yet to meet.

Oamock was still a quiet bay with calm waters.

Mysteriously, as if responding
to a huge general mobilization,

all were seized by a burning desire
to set out for Oamock.

After five days of travel,

more than 7,000 of them
were travelling together.

Oamock:

The tiny spot on the ice floe
on which they all converged.

A kind of unique oasis

protected by a long glacier,

where the cold and wind
were less severe than elsewhere.

No-one knows what attracts 2 individuals

in this immense singles fair.

But the emperor and his partner
found and liked each other.

To gradually learn how to follow
the same tempo as one

and never lose track of each other's rhythm

during the long months
they would spend together,

the emperor and his partner had
a secret: They were going to dance!

They'd practised the dance so often,
they'd remember it for months.

And when they achieved harmony,

they launched themselves
into the race for life.

Their chick is nearly as tall as them
but is certainly heavier,

as it stays put on Oamock, hardly ever moving.

A strange fever
invades the ice floe at this time.

The busy parents form a continuous stream

between Oamock and the ocean.

The emperor knows the route well,
but the whims of freezing, tides

and storms change the ice floe
and turn it into a chaotic scene

that changes shape every day,
creating new traps.

And now the emperor
and his companions are impeded

by a huge crack in the ice floe.

More groups keep arriving.

A crowd is forming.

But still no way out.

The emperor, armed with experience,
goes scouting.

And after a few days fishing at sea,

the emperor is already back among his own.

It takes a lot of luck
for a chick to reach this size.

At this point, only half of those who
were born at the same time remain.

We must go back in time to see

how this chick was born under a lucky star.

It was a few weeks before, in early spring.

The chick was now swallowing his meals faster

than the emperor and his partner
could provide them.

It was time for his parents
to go fishing together

to provide sufficient nourishment.

With a little gentle persuasion,

the emperor had convinced
his child to remain alone.

It was hard to take for the chick,

who didn't understand
this brutal change of habit.

On leaving him,

the emperor knew his chick would face

new, unknown dangers.

He spent most of his day in a "nursery",

similar to the huddle in which
everyone tried to keep warm.

It was to these nurseries

that the emperor and his partner
returned singing

to call their chick
when they came back from the sea.

But the emperor had learned
to dread this period.

The crevasses, the wind, the cold;

all had the potential
to end a still-fragile life.

But as the emperor recalled,
nothing beat the giant petrels.

Fortunately, the first blow was not fatal,

but the lesson was well learned.

The little emperor now knew

to avoid being isolated
on the edge of the colony.

Antarctica is a tough learning environment.

The emperor chick can't make
the slightest mistake.

You have to learn fast
to be able to grow up here.

His parents, though exhausted
by weeks of travel,

continue tirelessly to go and fetch him food.

Their bellies empty on departure
and full on return, they go

back and forth thousands of times
like the pendulum of a metronome.

The emperor's fate is a curious one.

He must raise his chick far from the ocean,

but can feed only in deep water.

Ten, twenty, thirty,

fifty, a hundred kilometres.

The emperor never knows how long he'll be away.

On the way the emperor realizes the landscape

is transforming with the return of summer.

The ice floe is beginning to crack

under the effect of the heat and the tides.

Another sign

he meets the season's first Adelie penguins,

his little cousins who are back for the summer.

The ocean.

Imagine his pleasure in smelling the salt,

in hearing the waves after
the total silence of the ice floe.

The sun is blinding; the whole
landscape is infused with light.

A prodigious event is about to take place.

The emperor pauses.

To the eye,

nothing in him has changed.

Yet it is as if, discreetly,

he was transforming
into a totally different creature.

The emperor is back in his real kingdom.

The emperor is above all a child of the ocean.

At sea he comes alive.

And when the emperor enters
the water, he is transformed.

Up there, ephemeral, chaotic landscapes.

Here, a stable world, outside of time.

Up there, the howling of the wind.

Here, the symphony of marine creatures

that flourish only at great depth.

Up there, the jaws of frost and cold.

Here, long quiet currents
on which he glides effortlessly.

His lungs empty, his heart barely beating,

he dives for minutes on end, deep,

very deep

more than 600 metres below the surface.

He is no longer breathing;
all his senses are alert.

The emperor's hunt has begun.

Where he's going, no-one will see him.

The emperor hasn't breathed for 2O minutes.

Above him,

the ice floe prevents him from surfacing.

Long cracks begin to fracture
the ice floe like a huge jigsaw.

This is only the beginning of the great thaw

that will soon relieve
the ocean of its ice roof.

A final race against time has begun.

If the thaw is too rapid,

the sea will engulf
the little emperor before he's ready.

Only a few days ago,

he had experienced that very thing on Oamock.

The emperor knows how long
he can stay away from his chick,

as if he were aware of the level
of hunger the youngster can endure.

This invisible thread between two
beings hundreds of kilometres apart

is one of the emperor's greatest secrets.

The emperor and his partner's union
has ended well.

They will now separate,

as if the masterpiece of patience
and harmony they built together

could exist only once.

After a few bows and a few songs,

the little emperor's mother leaves them.

Who knows if these three will ever meet again?

There is an end-of-season air
on Oamock, a kind of relief.

The emperor stays a while with his chick.

Spring whips up
one of the last storms of the year,

but the cold has lost its bite,

and no-one thinks of
huddling together to keep warm.

Two destinies, hitherto inseparable,
are diverging.

One with a lifetime of experience
and the other starting out,

with a mountain of challenges to meet

before taking his place
in the great epic of his species.

Few have lived as long as the emperor.

But what is the father's experience

compared to the challenges facing his son?

The emperor's story

is a long one whose beginning
is lost in the mists of time.

Over time his species has learned
the secret of surviving on the ice

and handed it down
from generation to generation,

with no apparent learning.

Between two meals, time passes quietly.

It's as if both wanted to prolong the moment.

Is not life here more fragile than a snowflake?

The time has come.

His first great march
awaits the little emperor.

But he will do it alone.

His father will precede him on the way.

And so the most venerable
of the emperors takes his bow

and embarks on his last journey,
with the utmost discretion.

The emperor has abdicated.

The story of a new emperor begins.

It's a discreet coronation
that he will accomplish alone.

Every bit of his grey down that is shed

is a part of his childhood disappearing.

The itching obsesses him.

He must go through this strange
ritual of metamorphosis

where he gradually divests himself
of his childhood coat

to reveal his new plumage.

The little emperor leaves Oamock

and sets out for the ocean
having never seen it.

It's clear that he doesn't yet know what to do.

The adults are sliding on
their bellies; why not do the same?

And so a simple game

takes the little emperor
away from the colony forever.

He will never go back:
Something is calling him.

The youngsters have never walked
on the ice floe,

and yet they are instinctively forming columns.

Of course, they've seen adults
walking like that,

but who is leading them?

They've been gone for two days.

Hunger drives the little emperor
and his companions,

who, until then, had been fed
generously by their parents.

The wind picks up:

A new ordeal.

But the emperor and his companions
don't even slow down.

In the memory of these hikers
there is a tenacity for life

which matches the storms
in which they were born.

It's remarkable how surprised
they are by the sight of the ocean.

Their gait becomes more hesitant.

Everyone seems to want to look forward.

Everything is new: The smell of salt,
the sound of the waves.

So this is the ocean!

In the air they find flavours that
remind them of their first meals.

The waves hypnotize them.

Who will go first?

Of course the adults dive into the water,

but how to do like them?

They see the movements of
their cousins, the Adélie penguins,

who hurriedly leave to join their
colony for the short summer.

For three days they hesitate.

Hunger is gnawing at their stomachs.

No-one has ever taught them
how to dive, swim or fish.

Ignorant of the ocean's dangers,
they know nothing of their prey.

Like butterflies emerging from their chrysalis,

the little emperor and his
companions open their wings

and instinctively fly into the sea.

Like experienced divers, they hold their breath

and discover the hidden side
of the ocean, for the first time.

It will take the little emperor
5 years of solitary learning

before he can take up the torch of a life

as full as his father's.

But one day, these little emperors
will surely hear the call

that will bring them back to Oamock

and they will continue this story
which, with our goodwill,

will lead them to the end of time.