In Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World: There's a bit of footage in the middle, of a penguin who becomes, in Herzog's word, deranged. It shows us three penguins, one heading off to the water for food, one heading back to the nest, and one just standing and looking at the mountains. Eventually, the penguin heads for the mountains. Waddling along, adorable. We're told that even if that penguin is retrieved, and placed in his nest, he would immediately leave and head straight for the mountains again. We're shown footage from eighty miles further, as the penguin passes a small diving camp. Still heading for the mountains. Everyone stands still as the penguin passes, forbidden to interfere, and the camera pans to watch him heading straight toward the mountains, and the 5000 miles of interior beyond. And his certain death.
It was a powerful juxtaposition, is why it hit me so hard, I guess. The penguin was so enthusiastic looking, waddling excitedly toward the mountains. Toward its death. I keep thinking back to the footage of the penguin just looking off at the mountain instead of going for food or going back to the nest, like he was just realizing there might be another choice. And, yeah, maybe that choice means death, ultimately, but it's hard to watch him try and not feel a little excited inside your heart.