Thursday, May 6, 2010

'Babies:' The observations are small

Babies looks at ... well ... babies.

Curiosity drives me to see any documentary that seems to have commercial potential, which is why I spent time with Babies, a movie from director Thomas Balmes that's likely to succeed in baby-obsessed cultures that view every infant as a mini-revelation. Balmes' approach -- no narration, minimal dialogue and lots of anthropological pretension -- focuses on four babies from four countries and four different cultures: Ponijao (Namibia); Mari (Japan); Hattie (U.S.) and Bayar (Mongolia). I'm not sure that I drew the conclusion that Balmes intended, but here's what I took away from Babies: an unwavering conviction that I'd rather live in a society with Pampers than one in which diapers are non-existent. The movie seems to suggest that developed societies indulge babies, doting over them in ways that mothers in less developed countries might find ridiculous, but Babies confines itself to tot-sized observations. Does Babies have anything else to say? Maybe this: If one could combine the ease of Namibian and Mongolian mothers with the resources of mothers in Japan and the U.S., the result might be an astonishing rise in SAT scores somewhere down the line. Maybe mothers in developed countries can learn something else from moms in the less-developed world: Babies can crawl through dirt, play with animals and live to gurgle about it.

No comments: