“Arctic Tale,” review by Susan Granger

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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, she’s 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 Seela’s 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 won’t die. She’s attended not only by her mother but also by another female, a vigilant “auntie,” who protectively flank her.

They’re 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 Sledge’s “We Are Family” as a walrus herd experiences communal indigestion.


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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.