This heartbreaking documentary puts a face on the sad statistics of global warming--and though it's not a human face, it's the perhaps even more effective face of an adorable polar bear cub, Nanu, along with her mother, her brother, and her natural enemy, the equally heart-melting Seela the walrus. With breathtaking footage of life on the arctic tundra, the directors spin a highly emotional tale of the melting ice caps and the effect of their disappearance on every species in the ecosystem. Since the film is essentially aimed at children, the cuteness factor is off the charts, aided by the slightly grating use of sound effects, a slangy voiceover by Queen Latifah, and a kid-friendly pop/folk soundtrack. And, as in a National Geographic special, viewers learn some interesting and neutral facts about polar bears, walruses, narwhals, foxes, and other northern creatures. The narrative, however, returns repeatedly to the grim conditions that are killing off our planet's wildlife, one family at a time. The directors take pains to create a hopeful ending, with a sweet pair of life-goes-on epilogues and a closing credit sequence featuring conservation tips, but the message of the film is sobering and hits its mark with kids and adults alike.
The frozen Arctic is home to polar bears and walruses, two very different types of animals whose struggle to survive against the elements is only being made more difficult by a changing climate. Directors Adam Ravetech and Sarah Robertson filmed walruses and polar bears in the Arctic for 15 years in order to create this amazing story about the lives of Nanu the baby polar bear and a newborn walrus dubbed Seelah. Striking footage from land and sea is combined with effective narration by Queen Latifa and pop music by Joby Talbot to chronicle these creatures' lives from the babies' first days of existence, through two years of training in hunting and fighting by their respective mothers and the changes in the icy world that are necessitating new adaptations by these animals, and a contemplation of the chances of both species' continued survival. Like March of the Penguins, the footage of the animals of the Arctic and the formation and breaking up of the ice is exquisite, but perhaps even more striking is the clear evidence of climate change in the delayed formation of the ice in the autumn and its progressively earlier thawing and breaking up each spring. The polar bears' and walruses' resilience and instinctual ability to adapt and change in the face of the negative effects of global warming in order to survive is stressed, and viewers are left pondering why man cannot similarly adapt and change his ways in order to positively affect the world. Bonus features include an interesting "making of" featurette with Adam Ravetech and Sarah Robertson that describes their travels, trials, and enormous gratitude for the assistance of the Intuit people and a fun Are We There Yet? World Adventure: Polar Bear Spotting mini-adventure for kids in which Molly and Sam go looking for polar bears in a tundra buggy. (Ages 5 and older) --Tami Horiuchi
- Making of Arctic Tale
- Are We There Yet? World Adventure: Bear Spotting
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