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Babies
DVD disk
10.05.2010 By: Andrew Hegele
Babies order download
Director:
Thomas Balmes

Actors:
Ponijao
Bayarjargal
Mari
Hattie as themselves

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Camera roll as four newly born babies from different corners of the world experience their first year in their natural habitat.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
BAAAABIEEEES! For whatever reason when I see the aptly titled baby documentary “BABIES”, I can only imagine it being shouted. Why? Well, you’d be hard pressed to find another movie that encompasses everything, and I mean everything that the movie offers simply in its title. BABIES is the recent French documentary from Focus Features that follows four new born babies from different parts of the world; Namibia, Mongolia, Tokyo and San Francisco as they breast feed, play around, laugh, attend yoga sessions, torture their siblings, etc.

First and foremost, if you aren’t the kind of person who’d gladly watch the type of cute youtube video that ranks in millions of views of babies being babies, kittens being kittens and cuteness being absolutely cute, then it would probably be in your best interest to stop reading. This is a difficult movie to criticize. I think babies are a fascinating lot, their curiosity is adorable, their smiles affirm my faith in humanity and their little laughs brighten my world, but unless they are my kids, I often stop caring rather quickly. The documentary attempts to match the simplicity and innocence of new borns by shedding itself of music, narration, clear dialogue and sense of direction. While I consider these risks to be among the movies most admirable qualities, they also reflect the movies biggest flaw; focus.

While the cinematography of the distinct environments is more often than not beautiful and the movie vicariously weaves the four subjects together gracefully, there isn’t a whole lot going on with this one. I couldn’t help but compare it to MARCH OF THE PENGUINS, an ‘aww shucks’ touchstone documentary that made millions in its cuteness factor. I rather enjoyed that documentary. No doubt BABIES would like to follow in its footsteps, but even MARCH OF THE PENGUINS had a basic structure; a journey of penguins getting from point A to point B. BABIES begins with a collection of assorted clips of these four babies being adorable and curious and ends with assorted clips of the four baby’s being adorable and curious. This is the kind of material that could have made a delightful PBS special with a Stephen Fry narration. I admire the execution here more than I enjoy it. They do their best to bring the audience down to the baby’s level. The cameras are hardly ever more than a foot above the ground and there are no subtitles to the parent’s conversations. Even when the dialogue is audible, it is often drawn out in favor of the sounds of the room. It’s peculiar, but never evolves from anything beyond that.

My curiosity on the other hand began to focus on other aspects around the hour mark. The babies are not just distinct in their culture but in their class. Two are from privileged households and two are not, though all appear to have a loving home. It is interesting to see one baby attend quasi-baby-yoga sessions with the mother while another plays with a room full of pricey toys. What is affirming is that their joy never appears to exceed that of the Namibia baby playing in a puddle of water. A nice thought.
THE EXTRAS
Babies: Three Years Later: This short but sweet feature brings the cameras back on the babies three years later. If you sat through the whole film you'd probably appreciate this. The director greeting the children for the first time in years is nice, you can see how much he cares.

Everybody Loves… Your Babies: This is a compilation of photos and clips fans submitted to the BABIES website during its theatrical run. It only runs a few minutes but after an hour and a half of baby watching I just about had enough.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
When the ooogaling of babies wears out its welcome and the occasionally lush cinematography runs thin there isn't much more to get out of BABIES that you can't already find in thousands of youtube videos and your own family scrapbooks.
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