Author’s notes: The following text was originally submitted as a requirement for our course, Food Processing Wastes Management, last Tuesday, 4th November. We watched the movie in our class as suggested by our instructor, who seems to really like the movie for the attention on the amplified environmental changes brought about by mankind and their implications on other creatures.
Overview of the Movie:
From IMDb: “Into the world of the Emperor Penguins, who find their soul mates through song, a penguin is born who cannot sing. But he can tap dance something fierce!”
In a nutshell, Happy Feet is about being oneself in spite of the criticisms against being different from the majority, and, in the process finding one’s place to belong while fulfilling a greater purpose of being a unique individual.
While it is a movie with well grounded ethical and environmental advocacies, Happy Feet is a highly entertaining audio-visual experience for everyone—child, teen, or adult. Its story was told in a way that the viewers would see the two sides (humans and other organisms) of a conflict that revolve around the subject of utilization of natural resources and the consequences that come along, i.e. pollution of the environment.
The movie characters presented are penguins, the antartic and flightless aviary creatures. What made the content of the movie digestible by viewers is the anthropomorphic characterization. The penguins talked, argued, and showed capability of human-like thought while maintaining their animal traits. They followed their mating season, hunted fish for food and for courtship purposes, and moved together when they needed to. It is worth noting that the movie was, in itself, a musical, too, adding an entertainment factor for the viewers as the insert song were not only well sung and orchestrated, but also well animated. The song lyrics also sounded relevant to every scene where each song played.
As a result, viewers are not only educated on the life of penguins, which is heavily based on observable behaviours of the actual penguins. We are also able to self-insert into the characters and relate with the characters’ thoughts and dialogues.
Beautifully crafted and knitted into the story of the life of Mumble, along with the other penguins of Emperor Land (Antarctica), is the realization of the negative effects of industrialization and human civilization towards the environment and the other animals inhabiting our planet. The movie excellently delivers our current environmental predicament by showing and not telling (following the rule “show, don’t tell”).
The penguins are seen as the victims of the human’s abuse of nature’s resources. In fact, not only the penguins in the South Pole are affected by the changes in our planet, but also other creatures. Water pollution robs freshwater organisms of their safe habitats. Global warming kills juvenile fishes. Air pollution and deforestation rob the birds of their lofty haven. The interdependence of this planet’s inhabitants makes all creatures, with no exception of humans, affected in various degrees. But it all means the same thing: this planet’s lives are affected.
We, humans, must be the ones in control of our surrounding, yet we so blindly cater our wants and need without controlling the scope of our activities (such as overfishing, high population levels in certain parts of the world, overproduction of non-biodegradable goods) or considering the safety of other creatures. These humble creatures need their habitats and food sources as much as we humans do. However, humans are considered as the top predators if the food chain, everything bad that happens to the other members of the biosphere would surely be carried on to the top. And this is why we are always facing scarcity of resources.
Ironically, this is also how humans continuously exploit whatever is left on the planet. Agricultural expenditures are always greater than the food sources being invested, raised, or planted on the soils. The antagonizing yet realistic viewpoint on human beings is befitting to the story. We, viewers and humans, are able to see the fact that we have been the bad guys for too long.
Despite the movie’s good impression on me, Happy Feet’s solution to the penguin’s problem left me a rather bad impression on how humans can be. It was unarguably the good path the movie have gone with Mumble being the one who did something using his tap dancing—an ability unique to Emperor Land—in order to bring back the fish for every penguin. I had hoped that the humans, although they were very minor details in the movie, had done something for the penguins on their own accord. I really hoped that they should have just realized that there are folks overfishing in many zones around the world. Needless to say, these strong emotions I held while watching the last bits of the movie were a proof of how deeply the story and the characters resounded within me. I happily give credits to the writers for that.
Overall, the movie’s point outside all the amusement is clear. We should start caring and acting now than later. That is, if we still want to see singing and dancing penguins in the future instalments of Happy Feet and, better yet, just want to let them sing and dance with secure food supply and glee in their own habitat to have a truly happy ending (or beginning, for that matter).
miharusshi’s Rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐