Wednesday, November 24, 2010

BABIES


This documentary by Thomas Balmes features a year in the lives of 4 babies who are located in different locations. The children are, respectively, in order of on-screen introduction: Ponijao, who lives with her family near Opuwo, Namibia. Bayar, who resides with his family in Mongolia. Little Mari in Tokyo, Japan and Hattie who is in San Francisco, USA.

There is no script, no dialogue except for candid footage of the 4 babies in various states of cuteness, tantrums et al. The documentary realistically captures on film the earliest stages of the journey from birth until they take their first step, a year later.

It also shows how one's environment can be the guiding force in the upbringing of a child. The sparse and dare I say squalid surroundings of a poor village in Africa, the barren snow capped mountains of Mongolia to the cosmopolitan metropolis of Tokyo and suburban America - they all provide excellent backdrop for the film.

Strangely enough I found myself more interested in the lives of Bayar and Ponijao because their lives provided a good glimpse into how babies born in impoverished nations 'amuse' themselves without the help of fancy toys and electrical gadgets. Crying, crawling and playing under the harsh sun and among cattle and just being their cute little selves despite their spartan environment was interesting to watch.

Some documentaries tend to drag on for hours and then end with some relevant social commentary on an important issue but this film gets a thumbs up even though it didn't convey any message. Because after all babies in any race, size, shape and form will always elicit a positive response!

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