Tuesday 23 August 2011

Today's Review: Babies

Yeah, I'm not reviewing babies in general, that could take a while. Instead we have a movie called Babies, a documentary about four babies from different parts of the world during the first year of their life. Our babies hail from Namibia, Mongolia, Tokyo and California, and the camera follows them all pretty equally.

Of course, the aim is to show how different cultures raise their children, and how those children develop and grow. These are certainly very different environments, from the dusty heat of Africa to the colonial Mongolia, and onto the busy city centre of Tokyo and the suburbian American life. Babies is certainly a documentary, but it's not your average documentary. There is no narrator, and no parents talk to the camera, they are only seen in scenes alongside their children. The main focus is the babies, and only the babies. The movie follows them from just after they are born and carries on through their first steps and words, capturing their curiosity and reactions to the world along the way.

It could be compared to a nature documentary in a way, watching these animals in their natural habitat. But the beauty of it is that no explanations are needed. The actions and facial expression of the babies are enough to understand what they are thinking or trying to do. The other major advantage of just focusing on the babies is that despite the vastly different cultures around them, they still develop in pretty much the same way. Sure, we see the American baby partaking in some Yoga, and the Namibian baby learning to balance items on his head at a young age, but these scenes are interspersed with clips of all four babies going through the same processes. Breast feeding, learning to eat by themselves, learning words from their siblings and parents, and taking their first steps. All of these stages serve as a reminder that despite how different people in the world are, we all started out the same.

Babies is wonderfully shot. It was clearly a laborious process to select the clips for just 80 minutes of video from a year's worth of footage for each child, and they certainly have picked many cute and fascinating shots. While it certainly is a novel approach to film just babies for the entirety of the movie, it does start to drag a little, and the short running time is probably a good thing to avoid losing the audience.

Of course, this is a movie for those who like babies. It was great watching through and picking out some of the things that my own children did when they were younger, and now that I am in parent mode it gave me plenty of warm fuzzy feelings inside. If you don't like babies, you won't like this, though why you'd consider a movie called Babies in that case is beyond me.

Babies is a a nice little movie. It's a very neat idea, and is well executed, even if it does start to get a bit boring after a while. But ladies, beware. Upon watching Babies you will most likely develop an insatiable desire to bear a child, so make sure there aren't any ineligible men nearby that you may accidentally leap on.

My rating: 4/5

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