on May 27, 2010
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
on December 20, 2014
I was really disappointed in this film. For some reason, the trailers for it (way back when it was first released) made it look really interesting. But it was actually hard to watch - the story lines just weren't nearly as interesting as I thought they'd be. I felt like I wasted my money on this.
on August 1, 2015
I teach Lifespan Development to high schoolers and when we finish the infant stage of development I always have them watch this. Initially, when I explain it they aren't thrilled about "culture" and "few speaking roles." However, when they watch it they fall in love with the babies in this movie. I follow the video with activities about culture and family heritage.
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.
on May 14, 2013
Don't expect any dialogue...there is none. Really.....not any at all.
I watched this for a psych class. Human Growth and Development.
This was perfect.
It compares and contrasts pregnancy, child birth, and child rearing in different cultures.
My own cultural beliefs caused my jaw to drop in some scenes but literally laugh out loud in others.
Seeing how different cultures approach family life is astounding and very interesting. Watching these babies develop was fun. I think I watched I three times!
If you are looking for action and adventure....move along. If you like a cute and interesting presentation of what might otherwise be considered mundane, grab you popcorn. I enjoyed it for what it is...an informational documentary.
on August 26, 2015
My twins were preemies, so I learned a lot about early childhood development from the programs they were in during their first three years. This movie shows child development in it's purest form. No matter what culture or environment a baby lives in, some things stay the same. Humans are human. This is one of my favorite movies of all time.