65 of 73 people found the following review helpful
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.
40 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2010
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.
40 of 50 people found the following review helpful
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.)
40 of 51 people found the following review helpful
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2014
I only appreciated the movie after I thought about it for a while. The film lost my attention at several points and I was falling asleep. The film did a good job of demonstrating different types of upbringings and different levels of child development, but I feel like a person would have to already know about child development theories to be able to grasp and appreciate the movie fully. Interviews throughout the film would have been helpful and informative.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2012
My wife n i had the impression that the show will compare the developing stages of the 4 babies but it wasn't clear. We'd have preferred if they compare, for eg, the 4 babies learning to crawl/walk despite living in a different environment. There was such an attempt but it wasn't clear. Some shots seemed random while others irrelevant. For instance there was one where an adult was milking a cow with no baby in sight. Given the choice again, i wouldn't have bought it.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2014
While babies are very cute, I would not recommend this movie for one reason: the stereotype of African people as primitive, and the National Geographic imagery of half-naked African women. Yes, there are Africans who live in the bush. There are also Africans who live in cities, attend African universities, and who are educated.
In fact, Nigerians, are some of the most educated people on the planet. African immigrants to the U.S. on average, hold more advanced degrees than Americans, percentage-wise. So, this Westernized (and racist) notion that the only Africans who exist on the planet are primitive is inherent in this film.
In fact, whenever Westerners show African people they are always poor, starving, or living in a hut. It's difficult to believe this is not deliberate.
However, if we're going to show African people at their most primitive, why not show a poor white baby living in Appalachia, chewing on a corn cob because his parents couldn't afford a teething toy? Because that is not the image the filmmakers want to promote of white babies.
This is why I cannot recommend this movie, because of the inherently racist imagery being promoted.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2012
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.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
"Here Come The Babies". A simple concept and an even more simplistic marketing tool for a movie. There is something undeniably watch able about this new French documentary following four newborns from different parts of the world during the first year of their lives.
Generally, whenever anything connected to Anne Geddes is within five feet I start to get a little queasy. I was afraid "Babies" would be like watching an extended commercial for Anne Geddes' new project. The film is cute and fun and amusing, but, thankfully, the saccharin levels are kept in check. How this is done is not entirely clear to me. It almost seems like a miracle.
We watch as four new babies enter the world. First, cameras actually capture Bayar's birth in a surprisingly up to date Mongolian hospital. Ponijau, the Namibian baby, is born in the most primitive conditions, her mother spreading red dye over her belly before birth and over the newborn when she enters the world. We also catch up with Mari, born in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and Hattie, born in the most medically sophisticated surroundings in a hospital in San Francisco. As the camera focuses on the babies, we watch the very different parents care for their newborns, imparting the traditions and conditions of their respective societies on the new children.
"Babies" doesn't have a narrative; it simply follows the children through various parts of their first years. We watch Ponijaur fighting with another child as they play in the red dirt, pounding plastic bottles with rocks. We watch as Mari attends a Mommy and Me group with her mother, trying to figure out what the overly eager instructor is doing or meant to be. We watch as Hattie attends some strange sort of bonding class with her father, the adults chanting as the babies stare around mystified. We watch as Bayar sits in a metal tub of bath water and a goat walks up behind him and starts to drink from the same water. All of these images are unexplainably mesmerizing and interesting.
While there isn't a narrative, it does seem as though there is a thematic assembly. For instance, scenes of the babies learning to crawl are woven together, scenes of the babies learning with their parents are woven together, and scenes of the babies interacting with cats are woven together. While there isn't an over-structured feel to the film, grouping these shots together helps to provide an interesting look at how different these cultures are. And, in many ways, they are also very similar.
Throughout the film, there are probably twice as many shots of the babies sitting alone, reacting to things, than there needs to be. These moments seem to be included to elicit laughter and feelings of endearment and veer dangerously close to the cloying Geddes-like feel I was dreading. Thankfully, just as these moments threaten to take over, the camera shifts to a new baby, a new theme or a new setting and the feeling is broken.
I really wasn't expecting to enjoy the film as much as I did. Perhaps the babies wove a magic spell over us and I am overlooking some obvious flaw. But the film has a couple of things going in its favor. First, the film runs 79 minutes. It is difficult to become bored in such a short period of time. Second, I was engaged by the glimpses of the various cultures and how different the families are.
"Babies" won't be everyone's cup of tea. A lack of viewpoint and narrative will probably drive many people batty. And not everyone will find the constant barrage of cute images palatable. But I went into the film fearing these things would make it an unpleasant experience for me to watch "Babies", as painful for me as giving birth. But "Babies" won me over and is a fun, enjoyable way to enjoy some time with a loved one.
Just don't take your wife or girlfriend if you aren't ready to have "that" discussion.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2011
It was my turn to choose a movie. I dont know anything about movies. I had to choose. I chose this Babies thing. In a nutshell its about babies. Not how they are made, how they are raised, what they are doing here. It just about them. They dont have speaking parts so its hard to understand them sometimes. If you love babies, you will like this movie. If you just like babies pretty good, you might make a choice different from me. I liked this movie, but I wouldnt watch it again, especially in mixed company, those who like babies mixed with those who dont so much. For the volume of babies this movie has in it, I give it high marks.