|A Parental Review of "Arctic Tale" for Concerned Parents:|
Artic Tale suffers most from – if anything – a general misconception on the part of the viewing public as to the nature of the movie.
Due in no small part to the marketing campaign and collateral, which included lots of adorable advertising displays for Arctic Tale in Starbucks across the contry, featuring doe-eyed baby walrus and polar bear buddies, Artic Tale seemed like it could only be an adorable film riding on the coat tails of Happy Feet. It had to be a cute little story about the two chilly tots and the adventures they get in to, right?
Wrong. Nothing could be further from the reality. Arctic Tale is, in fact, a serious, hard core documentary.
Now, don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with a serious hardcore documentary, and as they go, Artic Tale is very well done indeed. But for many people – parents bringing children to the movie in particular – it isn’t what they bargained for.
People knew that March of the Penguins was a documentary going in, just like they knew that Happy Feet was a cute animated movie with a message. With Artic Tale people were expecting the latter, but got the former.
Worse, once in there with the kiddies, it is a documentary that is in points less subtle than was March of the Penguins. In March of the Penguins, when the egg dies, it is subtle. If you’re a young child, you may not even catch on to what has happened.
But when the polar bear cub’s twin brother dies, and the mother and girl cub lay down next to his dead body and don’t want to leave it, it’s heart-wrenching and obvious, and when the adorable wide-eyed baby seal desperately hides in ice crevices, with the entire theatre hoping along with it that the polar bear doesn’t find it – they wouldn’t do that to a theatre full of kids, would they? – they would. And they do, and there is vibrant crimson blood on the bright white snow, and bears pulling at flesh – it’s anything but subtle (although to be fair, the most gruesome aspects are not shown on screen).
There is also a scene where you see bears tearing flesh off a freshly killed walrus, and a scary and sad scene where a polar bear attacks a group of walruses, and the main baby walrus’ “aunt”, whom we’ve come to know and love as her second mother figure, sacrifices herself to save the baby.
We actually saw parents leave the theatre half-way through the movie with their children.
Now, all that said, Artic Tale is a very well made documentary – and it does a good job of driving its point – and make no mistake, there is one – home. Global warming is already impacting the populations of artic animals such as the walrus and the polar bear to the point that the bears can no longer find food, and the walruses are unable to find ice floes on which to rest. Both are swimming as much as 200 miles non-stop just to find a more hospitable locale (and not really finding it, at that).
It’s a valid, important, even urgent point.
It’s just not what most people were expecting when they went to see Artic Tale.
Bottom line is that I would recommend this movie if you go in with eyes wide open. And I would never take a child below eleven or twelve to see it. Our 9-year-old, who unfortunately did see it, because we thought it was a cute tale about two adorable polar friends, on his own afterwards told us that he felt it was too violent.
And it certainly should have had at least a PG rating; the G rating is, I feel, nearly negligent on the part of the raters.
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