Thursday, August 16, 2007

Arctic Tale

The lives of a young polar bear and walrus are the focus of the new documentary Arctic Tale which follows them from birth through adolescence to maturity in one of the most inhospitable climates on the globe.

The documentary, as narrated by Queen Latifah, follows a handful of arctic creatures. The main focus of the film is the separate stories of two animals: a polar bear named Nanu and a walrus named Seela. The documentary begins with their births and development and follows each of them through the first eight years of their lives as they grow, mature, and have children of their own. Somebody cue up “Circle of Life” from The Lion King.

As a documentary for young viewers it does a good job of setting up the life cycles of its main characters and explaining how the changing climate in the arctic is effecting everything. Though adults won’t really find any new information, the film does work as a good primer for kids. It is well shot and compiled, including many scenes which you wonder how close the camera men got to their subjects, and for adults wanting something educational to watch and discuss with their youngsters this will suffice.

What doesn’t work? The documentary is geared to young children and although Latifah never comes off as condescending, at times it does seem to talk down to kids. It is also filled with some juvenile fart humor that anyone over the age of ten will grow tired of quickly enough. And finally, the film is filled with musical cues that are a little too cute for me. An example, when discussing the family of walruses, “We Are Family” begins to play.

It’s not a great documentary and probably is more at home in an elementary science classroom than a megaplex, but it has its moments and provides some basic information on the arctic to young viewers. For more on the film check out the official site.

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