..Victoria Barkley..

Arctic Tale

In this rapidly paced world of ours — where we're running like gerbils on a treadmill or darting about like hummingbirds — it is great to step back, relax, sip a tall cup of iced tea and watch a family movie like Arctic Tale, especially on a hot and humid summer day.

Yes, here is more filmed evidence of the ever threatening loss of permanent sea ice by global warming, as animals living near the Canadian Inuit — way up by the North Pole — have to struggle to survive rapid changes brought about by that very danger. And yet, in spite of reminders of our ecological responsibilities, this movie is more about bringing us closer to the life of other species. Our ability to feel kinship with such far flung creatures at the edge of the world might just motivate us to act in line with a more positive global future, benefiting all of us.

The story, which took many years to film, follows the maturation cycle from birth to adulthood of Nanu, a polar bear cub and Seela, a walrus pup. Their raising by their mothers fueled by instinct to protect, nurture, teach and provide every step of the way is both deeply touching and an eye opening experience.

More than a "nature film" this "coming of age" story of two species forced closer and closer together in competition for a shrinking habitat is reminiscent of our own human drama. These animal mothers could represent us — at our very best as parents — raising our children in a loving, nurturing, supportive atmosphere that encourages their eventual independence in a fiercely competitive global village decreasing in distance and size.

Queen Latifah's playfully resonant voice narrating the scenes, tucks you in like a warm and fuzzy blanket, and gently coaxes your ears to listen to one more favorite bedtime story...one with the moral message of greening the Great North.

I was awed by the filmmakers' ability to merge with nature in such an unobtrusive way that an important segment of these lovable animals' life cycle could be portrayed so directly and intimately through their cinematography. It was easy to forget the steamy mugginess of midsummer outside and blend with their wintry realm, getting emotionally involved in their experiences, cheering them on during times of difficulty and rooting for their successes.

Arctic Tale is a wonderful film to share with children of all ages and the parent and child in all of us. Bring a box of family size tissues for the dramatic moments and a big, open heart ready to rejoice at how much we two-leggeds have in common with our pawed and tusked Northern siblings. Call me a sentimental slob. It's just my kind of movie.

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Opened on July 25 in New York and Los Angeles, and in wider distribution on August 17, 2007.