Last November, PONANTs Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s first luxury polar exploration hybrid-electric vessel powered by Liquified Natural Gas, set sail from Punta Arenas on her maiden cruise to the Antarctic.


On board was a particularly enthusiastic guest: Luc Jacquet. It was an opportunity for the French filmmaker and his team to capture more images and emotions in the very heart of the White Continent.
A world-renowned filmmaker, Luc Jacquet has directed numerous feature films and documentaries, including the Oscar-winning March of the Penguins. Strikingly beautiful, his cultural works have helped reconnect humankind with Nature, a philosophy shared by PONANT which raises guests’ awareness, through its expeditions to remote regions, of how vital it is to protect the environment. During Le Commandant Charcot’s first Antarctic expedition in November 2021, Luc Jacquet welcomed the chance to share his experiences and passion for the polar world with guests. 

Rich and unexpected images
Luc Jacquet and his team were on Le Commandant Charcot to capture images of the polar regions for his new film project Continent Magnétique (Magnetic Continent) and his next immersive exhibition entitled Sur les traces de l’Empereur (On the tracks of the Emperor Penguin). “We returned from this voyage with over 90 hours of rushes. We did some amazing work,” explains Luc Jacquet. Among the many “rich and unexpected images” taken are those of Emperor penguins, sites under snow or ice that are difficult to access, and landscape shots taken in the Patagonia channels and at Cape Horn “in exceptional conditions”.
A treasure trove of raw footage was obtained by integrating the imperatives of cruising, particularly when adapting to the weather and very complex ice conditions at this time of year. “An ode to cinema as it happens,” confides the filmmaker.  And while details of distribution have yet to be finalised, Luc Jacquet can already reveal ideas of “a black and white image forming a silhouette, probably that of an observer. An image full of contrasts using special focal lengths to create a slightly blurred effect here and there, the intention being to be more impressionistic than purely descriptive”. As they are normally filming alone, Luc Jacquet and his team were delighted to arrange a daily screening for guests of the rushes and to explain some of their filming secrets.
Le Commandant Charcot, leading the way in responsible polar exploration
With Le Commandant Charcot, “we feel there’s a really strong desire on the part of PONANT to invent new ways to go travelling”, says Luc Jacquet. “All the efforts made to reduce the ship’s impact on the environment are clear”. As well as exploring polar regions, Le Commandant Charcot raises awareness among travellers of the need to protect this fragile environment’s beauty and wealth of diversity; for we protect better what we know.
It is in the same spirit of sharing that the ship regularly hosts scientists, so they can carry out tests and observations in the quest to find solutions on how best to preserve these remote regions. For guests, there’s a range of citizen science opportunities, so they themselves can become active players in their voyage and protection of the planet. “I think we need spokespersons, tools to get the message across and that a ship like this has potential for science and activities like ours,” enthuses Luc Jacquet, an animal biologist by training.