Sunday, May 9, 2010

Baby Baby Baby

oNow repeat in your best James Brown funk-da-fied voice.  Doesn't that feel good?  So does watching the new documentary Babies from Frenchman Thomas Balmes.  The film chronicles four babies, living in different parts of the world, from birth through year one.  There's Ponijao, a baby girl from Namibia; Bayar, a baby boy from Mongolia; Mari a baby girl in Tokyo, Japan; and Hattie a baby girl in San Francisco.  While living in very different cultures and ways of life, Balmes is able to capture the universal truths through simple observation of human offspring.  The film has absolutely no dialogue, not even narration.  Yet, you can understand in the most basic ways.  The sibling rivalry between Bayar and his older brother as the older brother pushes Bayar in his carriage out to pasture and leaves him there; the frustration of Mari as she throws a fit when she can't fit a wooden toy rod into its donut; the inquisitiveness of Ponijao as she pulls on the tongue of a lounging dog; and the gumption of Hattie as she pulls herself up into a standing position.  I dare you not to smile.  The only drawback for me was that I left wanting to know more about the cultures I was observing, particularly that of Ponijao and Bayar who live very pastoral lives, contrasting greatly with the modern life I am used to as an American.  But all-in all, a very pleasant way to spend seventy minutes.

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