Snow Chick: A Penguin's Tale (2015) Movie Script

Midwinter in Antarctica
and one of nature's most extraordinary
stories is about to begin...
Through two months of biting winds,
blizzards and unimaginable cold
these male emperor penguins
have each nurtured a single precious egg.
One by one they welcome
their tiny chicks into the world.
But not all eggs will hatch
and one father is still waiting.
A neighbour shows off
his own new youngster.
His calls will encourage
the chick to emerge.
Finally, the youngest member
of the colony is born.
But growing up in the world's most
extreme nursery will be a huge challenge
for in just 6 months he must have
learnt enough to fend for himself
in the great Antarctic Ocean.
This is the dramatised story
of one extraordinary little bird.
Far from their chicks
the mothers have spent the last two months
catching fish and fattening up
while the fathers were left alone
to hatch their eggs.
Now the race is on to get back
and feed their young.
Among the excited crowd
is Snow Chick's mother.
She's got a belly full of fish
for her newborn
but between them is a gruelling
100km trek across the frozen sea.
Waddling at less than 3km an hour,
it will take many days to get home.
Instinct drives them on...
their babies' lives depend
on them arriving in time.
Back at the colony,
the father is getting to know his chick.
He gives him some high-calorie baby milk
produced from a gland in his throat.
But these supplies
will only last a few days.
It's just as well his mother
is on her way.
Following her maternal instinct
she and all the other females are making
steady progress on their journey home.
But, in places, the ice is wafer thin!
Below, a predator tracks their every move.
A leopard seal...
the penguins' greatest enemy.
The chick's mother senses danger.
She was right to be cautious.
Broken ice is a death trap.
For the rest, their chick
is their only concern.
But the seal needs just one victim...
A near miss, and she still has
60 treacherous kilometres ahead of her!
While the chick waits for her return,
outside temperatures are at minus 30.
But the pouch covers him like a tea cosy
and keeps him at a comfy plus 37 degrees.
For a new father, walking with a chick
on your feet is a tricky balancing act.
He'll get the hang of it soon!
The mothers are also struggling
with the icy conditions
and they are crossing some of
the toughest terrain on earth.
Their sharp claws grip the ice,
while scales on their feet act like treads.
But where the snow melts and re-thaws
it creates slippery conditions
that even a penguin finds challenging...!
Back at the colony,
it's been a week since the chick was born.
At these temperatures,
survival depends on getting enough to eat.
His father tries,
but there's nothing left to give.
The mothers battle on.
Sadly, some years they
simply don't make it in time.
The chick is getting weaker by the hour.
Then, at last, some weary figures appear.
Utterly exhausted by the walk
the mother still has one final challenge
before she can meet her chick...
Finding him!
There are over three thousand fathers
with chicks here
and, even to penguins,
they all look the same.
For the chick, time is running out.
But the penguins have a solution.
The fathers get in line
and dad and his chick join them.
They form an identity parade!
All she has to do is simply
work her way along the line.
Sounds simple enough
but among all the penguin lookalikes,
her partner is still tricky to recognise!
So every so often she stops and calls!
Her cry is unique and the father responds
with a call of his own.
It's what she was hoping to hear.
After 2 months at sea,
and a 100km trek across the ice
she's made it back in the nick of time.
In a miracle of natural timing,
he gets a morsel that will save his life.
It's now his mother's turn
to take over the childcare.
But they must be careful...
a few seconds too long on the ice
and their chick will die.
Finally, they unite as a family.
The bond they share is one of
the most remarkable in nature.
For over the next 5 months
they'll take it in turns to trek to the sea
to bring back food
for their ever-growing baby.
His father endured so much
to get the tiny chick this far...
saying goodbye is hard...
This time there's no looking back.
In 4 weeks he will return
with fresh supplies.
But first there's the little matter
of a 200km round trip to the sea.
Now it's mum's turn to feed him...
a natural preservative has kept the fish
as fresh as the day it was caught.
The chick may be satisfied,
but his father hasn't eaten for 4 months.
He and the rest of the hungry fathers
are now two days
into their long walk to the sea.
But sometimes the ice offers a shortcut...
An ice hole... a portal to the sea,
which could cut their journey by days.
And when you're famished,
it's got to be worth investigating!
But such holes don't appear
by themselves....
There had to be a catch!
They can either stay
and hope the leopard seal goes away
or continue their long,
risky trek to the sea.
Time to regroup.
This must be a joint decision.
Emperors rely on each other
for their very survival,
so learning social skills starts early.
Penguins are naturally argumentative,
so his first lesson
is sticking up for himself.
His mother only intervenes
when things go too far.
But no kid likes being told off!
At the ice hole, the standoff continues.
No one is keen to be first!
But they egg each other on,
as penguins like to do.
The coast is clear.
Their gamble paid off.
At the colony, two weeks have passed.
The chicks are testing their independence
and spending time away from their mothers.
All, that is, except one.
As the last to hatch,
he's way behind in development!
While the older chicks
are boisterous and confident
he still feels most comfortable
in his mother's pouch.
But penguins are sociable birds
and, to survive, he must learn
to play his part in the colony.
It's a daunting prospect...
but the little chick finds some courage.
It's a shaky start...
but he mustn't lose his nerve.
Time for a bit of tough love.
With every step he gains more confidence.
It's just as well...
he has so many friends to make!
But when you're the smallest,
it's tough to join the gang.
For now, there's always mum!
Out in the open ocean
the fathers are revelling
in being back in the water.
They haven't eaten for four whole months
and have lost half their body weight.
To stock up on fish and squid,
they hold their breath for up to 20 minutes
and dive to nearly 600 metres...
deeper than any other bird.
At the colony, three weeks have passed
and the chick is confidently
following his mother wherever she goes.
He's still learning
how things should be done.
And how they shouldn't!
He soon thinks
there's nothing left to learn...
so nervous toddler turns cocky explorer.
But at this age,
she mustn't let him out of her sight.
She's lost him...
and heads off in the wrong direction.
Confused, he does the only sensible thing
and heads towards the colony.
He feels safer now...
his mother must be here somewhere.
And then... security at last!
But he's got it wrong,
it's not his mother!
This must be her, surely?
Wrong again.
He tests each penguin in turn...
but nobody wants him!
In a colony this size,
he may never find his mother again!
These are desperate times.
In this frozen world, lost chicks
don't survive for long.
His father is among the many
rushing back with fresh supplies.
But he must be careful...
A pod of killer whales are on their tail.
They look for any penguin
that makes a mistake.
Just a tiny error,
but now he's in deep trouble...
He torpedoes to safety.
But killer whales are intelligent
and persistent predators
and the spring melt has turned the ice-edge
into a maze of gullies and openings.
Perfect for a surprise attack.
He must find a safe passage out
by staying on solid ice.
To keep him in their sights, they spyhop.
He sees a route, and heads for safety.
A reprieve of sorts.
But the other fathers left without him.
And, with a storm brewing,
he's totally exposed.
Already, the blizzard
has reached the colony.
The chick's only protection
is his overcoat of down
and at minus 40 it's simply not enough.
And, unfortunately,
the other mothers care only for their own.
The chick's mother calls one last time...
but her cries are lost on the wind.
At last he's found...
And not a moment too soon.
Within a few hours, the full force
of the storm engulfs the colony.
The chick may be safe
but as temperatures drop to minus 60
his mother's warmth is not enough.
To protect him,
she needs to find refuge in the shared
warmth of the other penguins.
As 100km an hour winds lash the colony,
the penguins huddle together.
Sheltered from the storm,
they're snug at last.
But out on the ice, the lone father
is still paying the price for his mistake.
His only hope is to reach
the safety of the colony in time.
In the comfort of the huddle,
the penguins have all the shelter they need.
In the centre, temperatures
can even reach a toasty 37 degrees!
To cool down, they shuffle to the outside,
letting others take their place.
By sharing body heat,
they weather any storm.
Desperate for the warmth of the family,
the lone father struggles on.
For the sake of his chick,
he simply has to make it back.
Then, through the blizzard... salvation.
Against the odds, he's made it home.
A few weeks pass
and the days are lengthening.
Dad is on parenting duties,
while mum takes the fishing shift.
But even in the safety of the colony
there are unexpected dangers...
Penguins who have failed to breed
practice child-rearing skills
on chunks of ice.
But their mothering instinct
is so overwhelming,
what they really want
is a baby of their own!
And who better than the smallest,
most adorable chick in the colony?
Dad has his work cut out
keeping these kid-snatchers at bay.
And they aren't
the only broody penguins...
Soon there are so many baby-snatchers
they block the father's path at every turn.
As his chick gets smothered by admirers,
there's nothing he can do.
For these lone females, the urge to nurture
a chick of their own is overwhelming.
In the frenzy, they are in danger
of loving him to death.
When dad can finally reach him,
his little chick is in real peril.
Then a lucky break...
He gets his battered baby back.
Nothing is more important
than the safety of your young.
As the weeks go by,
spring turns to summer.
The sea ice melts
and the ocean gets closer.
It means feeding the chicks is easy,
so they are growing up fast.
They hang out together
in small, comforting huddles.
But Snow Chick isn't ready to cut the ties
despite being too big
for his father's pouch.
It's starting to get embarrassing!
It's long overdue,
but his father finally persuades him
to find his place in the gang.
But there's an art to joining a huddle...
and he hasn't mastered it!
But practice makes perfect, and the first
thing to work out is which way to face.
You know you've got it right
when someone snuggles in behind you.
Accepted at last!
This is a huge milestone
in his development.
It means that, for the first time,
both parents can go fishing.
The chick is not so sure
he's ready to be left on his own.
But the colony has invisible walls
and he instinctively knows
they mustn't be crossed.
The adults left behind
don't have the caring ways of his parents.
Until they return, he must find
one of the colony's childminders.
A penguin who hasn't bred
takes on the role as practice for the future.
She'll take him under her wing
but only if he does as he's told.
She's a firm believer in discipline.
With so many chicks in her care,
stragglers won't be tolerated.
He will just have to toughen up!
But there's a reason
for the new, strict regime.
With the warmer days,
the open sea is closer now
and new and unwelcome visitors
can reach the colony easily.
A giant petrel.
They always pick on the smallest.
He's caught! But just by his baby fluff.
The childminder is welcome now!
It's now a deadly game of hide and seek.
Luckily, the petrel spots
an easier meal of scraps.
And the chick has learnt
a valuable lesson.
As spring continues, the melting ice
brings another new arrival.
The Adlie penguin.
A cocky character... very different
to the laid-back emperor.
Adlies breed in the Antarctic summer.
He's the first to arrive and he's heading
straight for his breeding grounds...
Exactly where the emperors are living!
When the Adlie reaches the colony
he's on a mission.
He's setting up home for the summer
and he expects to have the place to himself!
Adlies are only half a metre tall
but they're the most pugnacious
of all penguins.
He thinks nothing of taking on
the whole colony!
Chicks that don't give way
soon get the message.
He'll be a thorn in their side
until he's seen the back of them.
In the meantime, he makes himself at home.
As the melt brings the sea ever closer,
the parents visit their chicks
more frequently.
The littlest still
has some catching up to do
but with this continuous relay of food
everyone is bulking up.
When the chick isn't eating, he spends his
time hungrily waiting for his next meal.
When his mother does arrive
she's plagued by greedy chicks
all trying to blag a free lunch.
But if she feeds any of these imposters,
her chick will go hungry.
He's hidden somewhere in the huddle.
To find him she must use
her unique and comforting call.
The chicks are so tightly packed
he can only reach her by crowd-surfing.
Even now he must undergo
an identity check before he gets a meal!
Fortunately, he passes the test!
At the ice-edge, a new invasion.
More Adlies!
Hundreds of them!
They're ready to breed
and nothing will stand in their way.
They time-share these breeding grounds
with the emperors
and the summer season is their turn.
If you're small,
it's best to keep a low profile
and hope they'll pick on
someone their own size!
While the bigger chicks are squaring up,
he makes his exit...
When the new neighbours
aren't picking fights with the chicks
they argue amongst themselves.
The Adlie invasion is also a sign
of a bigger and more profound change...
After five months of nurturing
the adults are preparing
to leave their chicks for good.
A conveyer belt of food
is now arriving around the clock
building them up
until they can fend for themselves.
Many adults are leaving
the colony for the last time.
And the smallest chick here
still has some feeding up to do
and his parents are nowhere to be seen.
Then, two familiar figures.
It's double helpings this time!
He'll need the extra nourishment...
he doesn't know it yet, but this is
the last meal he'll ever get from them.
Without so much as a backward glance,
mum and dad head back to sea.
Their work is done.
The chick they spent 5 months rearing
must now stand on his own two feet.
A week goes by
and the weather deteriorates.
All that time, the chicks have been waiting,
but their parents never returned.
Even the Adlie seems confused.
Eventually, driven by hunger and instinct
their only choice is to cross
the colony's invisible boundary
and begin the most important
journey of their lives.
The Adlie couldn't be
happier to see them go.
He escorts them off the premises.
As winds reach 120km per hour,
the smallest struggles to keep up.
But he'll only survive
if he stays with the group
and it's so easy
to lose them in a blizzard.
In temperatures of minus 20,
they battle on...
driven by a need to reach the sea.
After several hours,
the struggling chick is losing energy.
Then, even the other chicks
can travel no more.
Completely exhausted,
the chick must make one final effort.
Together the plucky little gang
wait for the storm to pass.
A few days later, the weather has changed
and so have the chicks!
As they prepare for a life in the ocean,
they preen away their baby fluff
to reveal their adult plumage underneath.
As ever, one chick
has some catching up to do.
The Adlie wants them on their way.
Urged on by their escort,
the ragtag army reach their destination.
This is their first sight of the sea...
The great Antarctic Ocean.
They're facing the greatest challenge
of their young lives
and they'll only go when all are ready.
But their ice world is disappearing fast.
He hesitates. Something's wrong.
The ice gives way!
He's tossed into the sea!
He can't go it alone...
he must rejoin the others.
Then he starts to settle...
It feels strangely natural.
But as the rest show
no sign of joining him
his only choice is to clamber back out.
It's far more difficult than getting in!
And it seems he's not alone in the water.
The chicks head for a safer spot.
But, despite the danger,
the ocean is beckoning
and the excitement is contagious.
An old foe is here to see them off.
The chick may still be the smallest
but he seems more confident now.
He may be facing the great unknown
but he's already had a taste of the sea.
He pushes his way to the front.
After all he has learnt,
this is his moment.
He takes a leap of faith...
and this time there is no turning back.
The rest follow his cue.
He might have been the smallest
but he was strong enough
to survive against the odds.
And now he leads the penguin gang
into the vast Antarctic Ocean.
This will be their home
for the next four years.
Then, driven by the same feelings
that drove his parents
Snow Chick will return here
to find a partner of his own.
And the whole incredible story
will begin all over again.