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Arctic Tale - documentary DVD / family DVD review
ARCTIC TALE rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 1/2 stars
Narration: Queen Latifah
Director: Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson   Studio: Paramount Home Video
DVD release: 04 December 2007   Runtime: 86 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD features: Audio tracks (English, Dolby Digital 5.1; English, Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround; Spanish, Dolby Digital 5.1), Subtitles (English, French, Spanish), "Making Of Arctic Tale," "Are We There Yet? World Adventure: Polar Bear Spotting," Theatrical Trailer

In the heart of humanity is a cold spot that needs something visual to warm it. For my family, that visual assistance has come in the form of National Geographic's Arctic Tale. Glancing at the cover, my son and I assumed that this would be a happy tale about mothers and children. No stranger to National Geographic's penchant for truth, a penchant that should be celebrated, I warned David that there would likely be kills and authentic blood. "Animals have to eat, Mama, " David said with a puzzled look as he and I settled down to watch, full of hope and expectation.

Queen Latifah narrates with an authentic voice that reminds me of the days I first knew of her, and the tales that are shown and told are both witty and heartwarming. One tale is of a polar bear family - Mama, Brother, and Nanu. The other tale is of a walrus family, Mother, Auntie, and Seelah. Each of these tales is as poignant as any human tale that has been told through cinema.

What we learn through the lens of Adam Ravetch's camera is that animals of various types feel family unity of some sort, and that individual survival is increasingly hard to maintain. Time and time again, I found myself sighing or exclaiming to realize just how much David and I had in common with the children and the mamas in the tales. And most of the time, those similarities were enough to make Arctic Tale sheer pleasure to watch. David's joy at such a viewing was clear very early on. As Brother Polar Bear slid back into the hole of his den, slapstick style, David hit pause. "Papa," David called, unwilling to let his father miss a single scene, and then we started all over again. Later, as Seelah's mother and aunt cuddled and protected her, David and I nestled closer. I kept thinking to myself, "I really had no idea," and in such circumstances the surprise I felt was a good thing, a warming feeling, a symbol of earthly unity. But as the tales unfolded, "I had no idea" came to mean something quite different to me and David.

Through these tales, directors Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson reveal a problem that is often talked about in adult circles and just as often ignored. The effects of global warming become increasingly apparent as the icy landscape begins to fracture and to melt. Their message is both heartbreaking and demanding. Telling Arctic Tale to children is precisely the right move, too. Arctic Tale, in fact, can be described as An Inconvenient Truth for families. When Brother starved to death as a direct result of global warming, which has affected the food supply, we nearly turned off the movie. I decided to leave it on when David said, "This is important, Mama."

By the end, David and I had shed many tears. We had oohed and ahhed at kinship and beauty. We had lamented truths that needed telling. And we had made a commitment to ourselves and the world to increase what we do to save the planet and its inhabitants. David's commitment was immediately proved when he instigated arrangements to show this film at our local library as a public service announcement.

Arctic Tale has changed us. Through beautiful cinematography, well-told tales, and honest expose, we have come to realize the far reaches of our actions. Already we recycled, conserved energy, walked instead of driving whenever possible, but now we have animal faces to inspire us to do more and to feel more as we do. I encourage you to watch this film with your family and challenge you to be changed by it. And, please, watch the credits. The faces of children like yours or like children you know will help you to realize what is it stake if our human practices continue to destroy the planet.
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reviewed by Treasure Ingels-Thompson
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