Penguins: Life on the Edge

Penguins: Life on the Edge

Available on Disney+
“Penguins: Life on the Edge” follows the witty and tenacious team of filmmakers behind Disneynature’s “Penguins,” a coming-of-age story about an Adélie penguin named Steve. To fulfill their mission, the elite cinematographers must brave the brutal Antarctic, pushing through temperatures of -40 degrees, hurricane-strength winds and the overwhelming aroma of one million penguins. Every spring, Adélie penguins - some of the toughest birds on the planet - arrive to the edge of Antarctica to breed and ensure their species’ survival. To capture this annual ritual, the crew covers three key locations: Cape Crozer, home to the world’s largest Adélie colony; Dumont d'Urville Station, where Adélies and Emperor penguins are neighbors; and Avian Island, where no crew has filmed before. The Disneynature team has devised a unique, new look for “Penguins,” using a special camera rig to tell much of the story from a penguin’s-eye view. Intrepid divers film the Adélies’ grace and speed underwater and a helicopter crew records the massive colony and majestic scenery from above. While the team clearly admires the resilient “black-and-white miracle machines,” the penguins’ quirky behavior is often outright hilarious. Behind the scenes, filmmakers expound on comical moments, such as a tiny Adélie barging through an Emperor colony, males slyly stealing rocks from unattended nests, hungry chicks in hot pursuit of their parents, and molting mohawks. Unlike their charming subject matter, the cinematographers’ surroundings are no laughing matter. A snowstorm turns the hike back to camp into a fight for survival, katabatic winds batter the crew’s tiny tents, curious killer whales invade their personal space, and elephant seal flatulence is an assault to the senses. But perhaps nothing is more frightening than the final rite of passage for newly independent Adélie chicks. To reach open waters for the winter, they must cross brash ice where predators lie in wait. After many months of filming, crew members are positioned on land, boat and under water ready to capture the final scene … with high hopes their adorable avian acquaintances reach safety.