On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Arctic Tale is an astonishing, adventurous 8, notably for its spectacular photography
Venturing into March of the Penguins territory on the opposite tip of the globe this epic nature documentary follows the parallel stories of a polar bear cub, Nanu, and walrus pup, Seela, from birth through adolescence to maturity and parenthood in the frozen Arctic wilderness.
From the moment curious Nanu crawls out of her sheltering snow cave, shes surrounded by a vast kingdom of astonishing cold, an unforgiving landscape where she and her brother must learn from their mother – the skills necessary to survive.
After Seelas birth in the blue watery depths, her greatest challenge is learning to use her flippers to haul herself up on an ice floe so she wont die. Shes attended not only by her mother but also by another female, a vigilant auntie, who protectively flank her.
Theyre joined by tiny white foxes, skittish ring seals, thick-billed murres that fly not only through the sky but also the ocean, watchful gulls and mysterious narwhals, the unicorns of the North Pole. For these Arctic creatures, dangers abound, particularly climate change. Only the strongest will survive now that their crystalline habitat is rapidly melting.
For the past 15 years, the filmmaking husband-and-wife team Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson have painstakingly photographed 800 hours of footage, expertly edited by Beth Spiegel to serve a profoundly disturbing environmental warning tale by Linda Wolverton, Moses Richards and Kristin Gore (filially connected to An Inconvenient Truth) and narrated by Queen Latifah, whose cloying anthropomorphizing oozes treacle. Discordant notes also emanate from the often distracting sound track, slipping into Sister Sledges We Are Family as a walrus herd experiences communal indigestion.