“Babies” portrays infants in four diverse lands
Dan Culberson | May 24, 2010
Babies is an interesting, sometimes amusing, sometimes fascinating documentary that follows four babies from around the world during the first year of their lives.
The four babies are Ponijao in Namibia, Africa; Bayarjargal in Mongolia; Mari in Tokyo, Japan; and Hattie in San Francisco.
There is no narration, very little dialogue, none of which is translated, and only a few titles to tell us the names of the babies and where they were born.
In other words, this movie is like four sets of home movies called “Baby’s First Year.” On the other hand, who can resist seeing pictures of a sleeping, yawning baby?
We first meet Ponijao in Namibia. She and a sibling are pounding rocks together, and then they get into a fight over an old bottle, which results in some biting and crying. A title says “A few months earlier,” and we see Ponijao’s mother giving birth to her.
We cut to Mongolia and see a pregnant woman exercising in front of a television set while an exercise program is playing, and then later she gives birth to Bayarjargal. A nurse wraps him up tightly, and he is driven home on the back of a motorcycle in his mother’s arms behind his father and young brother.
Tokyo is next, and we see baby Mari while she is feeding, and a cat comes in and joins her.
Finally, we are in San Francisco, where we meet Hattie, and from here on the movie doesn’t show the four babies in order anymore, but instead shows different scenes in the lives of the babies and their activities in their first year.
Consequently, we see the similarities of raising a baby around the world, but we also see the differences, as well as the interesting differences in the four cultures that are represented.
All babies are given baths, but there are differences in the techniques.
All babies have animals in their lives, but there is a vast difference in what those animals are.
And all babies explore their body parts, but there are differences in what they wear, what toys they are given to play with, and how their parents try to amuse them to keep them from becoming bored.
Babeies is “Baby’s Home Movies,” yes, but who can resist babies, who are adorable no matter where they live?
I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”
“Hotshots” is a weekly movie review by Dan Culberson available on KGNU Community Radio (88.5 FM in Boulder and 1390 AM in Denver, on Filmchannel1, and on Boulder Reporter. Culberson has been reviewing films since 1972 for newspapers, magazines, radio and television.