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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relax and Enjoy!
A short time ago, my wife and I were joined by a new baby and our remarkable little boy is now at 19 months. The baby was a first for both of us and neither of us had almost any prior experience with an infant. Everything that unfolded was new and a very interesting experience. When my wife spotted the new "Babies" movie, we just had to see it. We both enjoyed it very...
Published on May 27, 2010 by Gary Peterson

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36 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If Your Biological Clock Is Ticking, Here's an Aw-Shucks Movie for You
I am probably not the best person to review Thomas Balmes' 2010 documentary following the lives of four babies during their first year. The film is only 79 minutes, but it feels awfully long to this childless reviewer especially since it carries the randomness of a string of related YouTube videos. However, I am not a complete curmudgeon since there are several moments of...
Published on May 8, 2010 by Ed Uyeshima


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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relax and Enjoy!, May 27, 2010
By 
Gary Peterson (San Diego, California USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Babies (DVD)
A short time ago, my wife and I were joined by a new baby and our remarkable little boy is now at 19 months. The baby was a first for both of us and neither of us had almost any prior experience with an infant. Everything that unfolded was new and a very interesting experience. When my wife spotted the new "Babies" movie, we just had to see it. We both enjoyed it very much and will be buying the DVD when it becomes available.

The movie is a very unusual documentary of four babies in four different parts of the world (San Francisco, Tokyo, Mongolia and Namibia) and four different cultures. There is no story. There are no spoken words, only background sounds. The movie goes from scene to scene, back and forth, back and forth from baby to baby and location to location. We watched with fascination as each baby learned to adapt and cope with it's new life as it unfolded in it's particular environment. Very interesting to watch. We cringed at some of the baby experiences and laughed at others. Of course, we had our own living example for comparison and it has promoted a wealth of conversation.

If you have a newborn/toddler, be sure to see this movie. You'll enjoy it immensely. Actually,babies are so interesting and humorous that almost anyone could enjoy the film. It's a very unusual movie to view. The photography in the various settings is excellent. The sound is good. Relax and enjoy.

Gary Peterson
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love Babies, you will LOVE these BABIES !, August 19, 2010
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This review is from: Babies (DVD)
The concept is deceptively simple: follow four babies from four different countries from birth til they take their first steps ~ 1 year old. As others have noted, there is no (spoken) narrative. Rather, the camera documents the four babies in the same situations : being born, first smile, at play, sleeping, etc. I watched this movie with my daughters and we all absolutely loved it (I was glad that they did not actually show the birth process). We all had our favorite babies - my daughters loved "Hattie" from San Francisco but I fell in love with the baby from Mongolia as he was so adorably mischievous. This multi-cultural perspective on babies is utterly fascinating. You will find yourself asking such questions as "Which baby seems the happiest?" (asked by my 9 year-old daughter); "What do babies REALLY need to thrive?" - toys, shelves FULL of books, or just a loving mom and a roll of toilet paper? There is a particular scene where Hattie bites her mom and instead of reprimanding her (like the Mongolian mother did when the baby was naughty), she pulls out a book entitled ~"No Biting". It's also interesting as an American parent, to see how "sterile" our babies are compared to the babies that grow up in countries like Mongolia and Namibia. Most importantly,as a parent, it makes you appreciate the "magic" of raising a child. A must see for all parents, and lovers of children, including children themselves. It is also a very entertaining movie. My girls laughed out loud and had me rewind it (rented and recorded it on Cable) in several places. Be forewarned: it may increase your urge to have a baby-I luckily slapped sense back to myself.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars BABIES is cute, funny and sometimes moving., May 21, 2010
By 
RMurray847 (Albuquerque, NM United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Babies (DVD)
BABIES is a feel good movie that arguably has absolutely no point, or is very profound. It is a documentary that essentially films the first year or so in the lives of 4 babies from vastly different parts of the globe. We simply observe them eating, evacuating, smiling, discovering their toes, learning to crawl, learning to play, and so on. Certainly babies are cute, and it's easy to get an adult audience to smile with and laugh at these silly little creatures.

That could be the point of BABIES..."look, how cute." And frankly, it's pretty satisfying on that level alone. But it could also be showing us, and the most basic levels, how we're all so VERY similar, at least when we start out. That all of us, whether from Namibia, Mongolia, Tokyo or San Francisco...we all have so very much in common. That's a simple, almost clichéd "lesson", but BABIES presents it in a clear and undeniable manner.

I very much appreciated the underlying points to ponder of BABIES...but mostly it was just a 79 minute delight. It's a wonderful cultural lesson: short after birth, we see the Namibian baby essentially spending his time completely nude and the little Mongolian child swaddled tightly in many layers. Both are valid child-rearing approaches...but are starkly different and both are moving. Seeing the Mongolian child wrapped like a cocoon is a startling image...yet given his stark and cold surrounding environment...it is a way for his family to show their love and caring for this child when they are unable to physically be there holding the baby.

The Mongolian child was my favorite (although I liked all the kids)...and I suspect each person will have their own favorite. For American viewers, the San Francisco baby may either strike a strong chord, or may seem to be the least interesting. The Mongolian child was interesting because he was so darn cute, but also because he had a deep relationship with the animals that were such a part of his family's farm: roosters, cows, goats, cats, etc. You can see how this tiny child will grow up to care for and understand the animals in his charge, because being around them is as natural as breathing. I found all those scenes to be rather touching.

Do be sure to enjoy contrasting the American child-raising to the styles around the world. One of my favorite moments: we see a toddler aged Namibian baby enjoying sitting outside his hut with his extended family, enjoying tribal music in the very area of the world it originated in. It feels integrated and RIGHT. Then we cut to the American girl, who is with her father participating in a group with lots of other kids and parents, sitting in a circle in a classroom, singing "Native American" songs and clapping their hands in a "tribal" rhythm. The American baby leaps up and runs screaming to the door of the room, trying to get out. The audience I saw this with just busted out laughing...we all saw the irony of an African child enjoying African music and an American child balking at enjoying "fake" African music. Draw your own political conclusions.

If you've seen the trailer for this film and enjoyed it...then you WILL enjoy the movie. It's just more of that. Simple and sometimes moving. And while there's lots of baby nudity and topless women in Africa...the movie is suited for the whole family, in my opinion.

(PS: It's a French movie, but that makes no difference. There is no "dialogue" or narration...nor is it needed. Sure, you understand what the American parents are saying...but believe me, when you hear the Mongolian boy say "papa" for the first time...you don't need a translator.)
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lesson for our modern life!, September 3, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Babies (DVD)
I watched this documentary recently in whilst on holidays in Europe. There was no spoken commentary and that was a bonus for a film like this.

If you are interested in human development - here it all is before you in the first year of life of four healthy babies growing up in caring environments. All the milestones from a Child health and development point of view and interesting observations of baby caregiver interactions are here to see in 4 different cultural environments.

This documentary also brings home the vast differences in the two more western environments -US and Japan, and the contrast of the Mongolian environment and the baby growing up in a very different environment in Namibia.

What we can learn from this documentary is that normal healthy human babies growing up in loving families and stable environments develop physically and emotionally in much the same ways despite all the things that we tend to think are essential in our western culture.

We see a vast contrast in the cultural environment in which the Namibian baby lives, for example, and our western culture where we tend to feel we need to have a vast array of purchased toys for each stage of development, lots of fashionable clothing, and often we are so isolated we really do need to attend mothers groups for contact with other mothers and to and learn from each other, and then there are baby gym classes to attend.

We can see from the other environments how all this tends to happen quite naturally in the Namibian group and in the Mongolian family it is different again due to the family's need to survive in their environment.

As a bonus, there are also the beautiful scenic backdrops of the locations.

Whilst this documentary is delightful to watch for anyone who adores babies, the important message here could be that healthy babies who are born into caring families who interact with them and give provide opportunities for learning end up developing normally in much the same ways, in these vastly different cultural environments.
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36 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If Your Biological Clock Is Ticking, Here's an Aw-Shucks Movie for You, May 8, 2010
This review is from: Babies (DVD)
I am probably not the best person to review Thomas Balmes' 2010 documentary following the lives of four babies during their first year. The film is only 79 minutes, but it feels awfully long to this childless reviewer especially since it carries the randomness of a string of related YouTube videos. However, I am not a complete curmudgeon since there are several moments of delight to be found in Balmes' extended-shot approach which rarely goes above the eye-line of an infant. The director goes to four distinct places to highlight cultural dissimilarities and the universality of babies' experiences in responding to the world around them - pastoral Mongolia, heavily urban Tokyo, the Namibian desert, and kid-friendly San Francisco. There is no voiceover narration, just the gurgling noises, crying jags and first words from the babies in a fashion closer to a wildlife documentary.

As for the babies who could technically be up for leading-category Oscars, there is Mari of Tokyo, who appears to show both a contemplative curiosity about the family cat and an artist's temperament in her epic fit when she falls to the floor and pounds her legs on the playroom floor. Hattie of San Francisco takes to her jumpy chair and her playground race car like Evel Kneival and actually has the film's funniest scene when she tries to escape her parents as they perform an unbearably pretentious Native American earth chant. Bayarjargal of Mongolia displays the most perseverance as he confronts the mayhem caused by a bullying older brother, thirsty goat, and an aggressive rooster. However, it's Ponijao of Namibia who steals the movie as the model of stoicism as she replicates her mother's domestic actions with just pebbles, dirt and the occasional piece of food. In fact, you might be amazed like me at how self-sufficient all these adorable babies are.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting view of International child rearing, November 3, 2010
This review is from: Babies (DVD)
I watched this movie with my husband, toddler and baby and we all loved it. It has plenty of "maternal nudity",
which consists of breasts (when the babies feed) and pregnant bellies. No vaginal or birth scenes here. I got a
lot more out of it than most other people did because I am interested in natural birth, cloth diapering and
organic living in general. I just wish they showed more about how the primitive mothers took care of their babies
when they were sick or injured, baby food preparation, more about how they diaper or potty train- things like that.
It made me realize how absorbed we "civilized" folks are in all of our gadgets from the moment we are born.
The two developed nation babies quickly had learning toys surrounding them, while the primitive babies played
outdoors with what nature provided. The primitive moms did not worry about their babies crawling naked outdoors
in the dirt, crawling in and drinking from a moving stream, crawling under livestock or on rusty barrels. When I
let my son crawl outdoors he tries to eat every stone he sees, so I don't know how they keep them from choking
on stuff! Meanwhile we developed nation mommas are concerned about each milestone, counting how many words the
child is learning and whether they will be ready for grade school, so why do we complicate things? We tend to go
for the man-made answer to everything. As a mom I felt this movie taught me not to worry so much about the small
things (like back when my son ate a bug & I nearly passed out) and I was reminded that babies are all the same no
matter where they are born, they just adapt differently to the environment they were brought into & this movie lets
us watch that happen.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Questions Raised, Answers Not Provided, April 4, 2012
This review is from: Babies (DVD)
I couldn't get through this film until I was 4 months pregnant. Otherwise, without dialog, it was too boring. (I found the cats more entertaining to watch.) I'm not one of these people that thinks babies are cute so perhaps if you are, you'll like it more.

As a parent-to-be, I found the contrast between the consumer lifestyle of first world countries with third-world countries very interesting. I was also intrigued with other culture's hands-off approach to parenting. But, after watching the movie, I find that it didn't probe these differences enough for me to make a decision about which method is healthier. In fact, it mostly confused the issue. (Some might say that the movie was not trying to indicate one method was better than another... but I think, very subtly, it was definitely criticizing first world methods and presenting the "Noble Savage" methods as something more respectful.)

For instance, in one scene, an African baby takes the toy of his older sibling. The older sibling takes it back. The baby hits him. The older sibling hits back. The baby cries and no one comes to comfort him because no one is watching them. As a viewer, my first reaction was, "Well, that will teach the baby not to take toys and hit! I'm glad the mother didn't rush in and scold the older sibling."

But, then, later, I watched an older Mongolian toddler full out attack his younger baby brother and no one intervened. He simply kept hitting the baby until he got bored. All the while, the baby was crying. No one came to his rescue. Then, the minute that little baby learned to stand the first thing he did was reach over and grab someone who was smaller than him and made her cry. What had he learned? If you are bigger, you can beat up on those smaller than yourself.

So, which is best? Give children less supervision and let them sort it out for themselves, risking that one child will abuse the other, or intervene and risk over-protecting your child? Which is the worse evil? Over protection or a bullied/bullying child? The film did not answer these questions or even probe these questions deeply.

Also, I found it a little distasteful that the film makers rushed to make fun of "first-worlders". The scene where the little girl in Japan had a room full of toys and seemed bored and unhappy was contrasted with the little boy in Mongolia who was tied to a bed and was SOOO happy to get a roll of toilet paper to play with. The message, "We give our children too much!" was loud and clear throughout the film. But at this point, I thought, "WAIT! We don't know if the baby in Japan was bored and unhappy because of her toys. She could simply be overdue for a nap! Also, I bet the boy in Mongolia has similar, cranky, overstimulated days and moments, also!" It got me wondering if I was actually being presented with the truth of the situation or with a trendy message about American consumerism.

And the little clips of the San Fran couple singing tribal songs about the earth mother with their children while inter cut with clips of the real African tribe... come on! Everybody knows we're suppose to laugh at the stupid Americans at this point. All that did was make me wonder at the agenda of the film-makers and if they were presenting an accurate picture of both American parenting and other culture's.

So, was it worth my time to watch as a parent-to-be? Yes. It will definitely make me think more about being too over-protective and too involved in my child's life. But other than as a "caution sign" in the back of mind, I'm not sure if this film is actually going to change any of my parenting behaviors (I'm still going to buy tons of learning toys because is it better to risk over-stimulating the child, sometimes, or risk under stimulating the baby's brain and s/he lags in development?) So, see it but expect it to confuse you a little bit about how to parent and don't expect it to answer any questions.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, but Some Suggestions to Make it Better!, October 12, 2010
By 
David Baltazar (SAN JOSE, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Babies (DVD)
This review is for; Babies

As proud parent of my 16-month old son, my wife & I enjoyed watching "Babies". The DVD has no narration. Just rotating clips of four newborns from four different cultures taken from the time of their birth to their first steps. The babies come from a barren desert in Nambia, Africa, an open-field farm in Mongola, a crowded part of town in Tokyo and San Francisco. Honestly my wife & I found the clips from Africa & Mongola to be more interesting because of the extremely, different living conditions than you might not expect from any Western living conditions. Funny clip about the goat trying to drink the baby's bathing water from the window. When you live in such open environments such as a dessert or an open field farm it was interesitng to see the babies just roam as far as they could with minimal, adult supervision. There wasn't anything special about viewing the Tokyo & San Francisco clips that looked very ordinary to me although the scene of the San Francisco baby opening and eating a bananna was very funny to watch!

I thought it would be more interesting if the film makers could have included a Middle Eastern or Indian culture or a Hispanic culture to add more variety besides or in addition to the cultures already represented. It would also been interesting to include a culture that raises a baby in a extreme, cold weather climate such as Alaska, Canada or somewhere in Europe. As for extra's on the DVD there is a short clip of all four babies revisited three years later after they were filmed.

Overall "Babies" is an enjoyable DVD to watch if you appreciate the innocence and beauty of young babies looking at the world for the first time!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Babies, August 3, 2011
This review is from: Babies (DVD)
Babies follows the development of four infants for about a year, from birth until their first words and steps.

The babies inhabit four very different societies: Ponijao is from a village in Namibia; Bayar lives in a yurt (nomadic tent) in Mongolia; Mari resides in a modern high rise in Tokyo; and Hattie lives in San Francisco.

I loved the movie. It also made me sad.

My own three babies had childhoods not unlike Mari and Hattie. They have all grown into happy and well adjusted people. Maybe it is my own sentimentality that gets in the way, when I wish their early years back so that I could do it all over again.

I found aspects of Ponijao's childhood most comforting. She lives in a communal society with few material belongings. Mostly what we see is women and children of different ages spending time together. The women sit and talk to each other, tell stories, make jewelry out of rope. They grind flower for food with stones. They hold their babies, or hand them over to older children. Babies crawl around on the dirt floor. They put things in their mouth. They taste, smell, hear, see. They are fed when hungry and reassured when frustrated. Expectations are clear. There is time for everything.

Punjao meets all the milestones that babies in other societies do at a similar rate of development. She (together with Bayar from Mongolia) seems to have gotten there at a more relaxed pace, though.

Mari and Hattie have wonderful childhoods, also. Their fathers are present and involved in their upbringing. But these two girls and their parents are living hectic, distracted lives. With their busy schedules they seem to be trying to recreate in baby classes what Ponijao and Bayar have as a starting point. And even though they live in large, populated cities, their existence seems more isolated and restrained than Bayar's and Pujao's. Punjao has her community; Bayar has his animals as companions and the expansive landscape around him is wide open for him to explore.

What do infants need to grow and flourish? Love, time and patience from their parents; response to their needs and concerned company of other beings (both human and animal). These seem to be the ingredients of a happy childhood. Most other activities seem to be a distraction.

[...]
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch this with your child!, May 29, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Babies (DVD)
I had watched this movie alone when it first came out, but when I came across it again as I sorted through our videos, I got the idea to watch it with my nine-year-old son. He has always adored babies and he is an only so hasn't had much experience with how babies are raised. I wanted him to see the cultural differences, I wanted him to see how babies could grow up happy and healthy with almost NO material things(unlike him),and I wanted him to see that mothers all over the world love and care for their babies, albeit in different ways, and the babies thrive from that love.
My son LOVED it. I loved watching it with him. We laughed. A lot. We added our own dialogue to what the baby must be thinking at the time (WHY can't I get this STICK to stay in the CIRCLE?). AND as a bonus it led to lots of questions from my son, questions about "did you do that with me?" and "did I do that?". I also am very pro-breast feeding and had no problem with his seeing the breasts of these mothers as they fed their children.
He did go around afterward and tell his friends about the movie - especially the breastfeeding part. I may have some parents upset with me that my son made their kids come home with questions ("is that really what breasts are FOR?") but I realy don't care. I hope it opened up dialogues at other homes, to be honest.
So yes, there are lots of breasts. But my son simply accepted that this is a natural part of raising a baby and in some places it is the only option.
It was a wonderful experience for both of us. I really liked watching the babies in Mogolia and Africa, in cultures SO different from our own. I wish there would be a Babies II with 4 new babies in 4 new, exotic locale, so we can see how even more cultures raise their babies. But it brought my son and I closer, and we are keeping the movie to watch again some time in the future.
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Babies
Babies by Thomas Balmes (DVD - 2010)
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