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DVD Review: Babies

August 31, 2010

Babies – An Alliance Films Release

DVD Release Date: August 31st, 2010

Rated G

Running time: 79 minutes


Thomas Balmes (dir.)


Bruno Coulais (music)


Babies (as themselves)

Bayar – from Mongolia

Hattie – from San Franciso

Mari – from Tokyo

Ponjiao – from Namibia


Bonus Features Include:

• The Babies – Three Years Later

• Everybody Loves…Your Babies Sweepstakes Winners


Our reviews below:


Babies DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Following four kids from birth to first steps – Ponijao from Namibia, Bayar from Mongolia, Mari from Tokyo, and Hattie from San Fransisco – Babies is a look at what growing up is like in different parts of the world.  Although it doesn’t touch on any deeper truth or teach us anything we didn’t already know, that may just be this appealing documentary’s biggest charm.


Nearly dialogue free, and with no narrative sense, Babies is a documentary always worth watching due to the adorable subjects.  With beautiful cinematography and brilliant editing, Babies is an always cute and very entertaining way to spend a surprisingly short 79-minutes.


The DVD includes a charming featurette with director Thomas Balmes showing his finished documentary to the four families, as well as a look at the winning babies of a tie-in contest.  In all, about five minutes of cute extras.


Babies DVD Review By Erin V.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Following four babies (3 girls, 1 boy) in the first year of their lives, Babies boasts gorgeous cinematography, irresistible cuteness, and an interesting look at growing up around the world.


We get to meet Ponjiao from Namibia; Mari from Tokyo; Bayarjargal from Mongolia; and Hattie from San Francisco.  Two kids growing up in rural environments, and two in the city.  I found that particular contrast quite interesting.  Watching the two in Tokyo and San Francisco get specific crafts to do, or sit down for strange parent and tot activities or set reading time, was contrasted by the children in Mongolia and Namibia learning through doing, by playing with each other, the animals, and natural world around them.  It begs the question of should we just be letting kids be kids – or should we be prepping them for the busy modern world before the age of one?  The similarities between the kids is remarkable too, just going to show, that we all start out the same, before our life experiences shape our lives.


What I found so interesting about the way Babies was put together, was how it was never boring sans dialogue for 79 minutes.  Kudos to the filmmakers that with all the many, many hours of film-worthy footage obviously shot, they kept it to a short length, so that unlike other docs which overstay their welcome, I was left wanting more.  The DVD includes a 5 minute update of the kids at age 4 when they were shown the finished film, as well the winning entries of a contest where you could submit footage of your own babies.


I would definitely recommend this documentary on DVD.  It tells a lot more with images than most do with excessive explanation.  This is a film well done.


Babies DVD Review By Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

Everybody loves Babies.  This is the tagline of this documentary, and it sure fits.  Babies takes an unbiased look at the lives of four adorable babies; Hattie from San Francisco, Mari from Tokyo, Ponjiao from Namibia, and Bayarjargal from Mongolia.  Told without dialogue or narration, this film shows the babies playing, learning to crawl, eating, nursing, interacting with siblings, doing their business, and being cute.  And not only do we get to see cute babies, we get to watch cute babies interacting and playing with cute animals, such as puppies, baby goats, calves, and lots of kitty cats.


One thing that struck me, was that while Hattie and Mari are almost obsessively protected, Ponjiao and Bayar seemed free to play in (and sometimes eat) the dirt.  Living rural, they don’t have to worry about the busy roads that their urban peers live near.  But despite the differences, there are mostly similarities.  There are sometimes sibling rivalries, and the babies do get into mischief sometimes.  But there is also a lot of love, between mothers, fathers, babies, siblings, and pets.  Babies is a hilarious 79 minutes of non-stop cute.  Never boring, you will want to see this again and again.  Get the DVD for five more minutes of cute bonus features.


Babies DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

What’s cuter than watching one baby do cute baby things?  Watching four babies from different parts of the world do cute baby things.  Babies is a fascinating look at the ordinary day-to-day lives of four very differently raised babies.  The message of this film is simple – a baby surrounded by love and nurturing adults will thrive and develop as they should no matter how different the parenting styles and living circumstances.


The cinematography in Babies is beautiful.  Each of the babies are adorable in their own way and the outdoor scenes in rural Namibia and Mongolia are particularly interesting.


Seeing the contrasting lives of little Ponjiao in Namibia, little Bayarjargal in Mongolia and the urban babies, Mari from Tokyo and Hattie in San Francisco is fascinating.  It leads to the question, is their any one right way of parenting?


Thought provoking and absolutely adorable to watch, Babies is a must see.  This would make a wonderful baby shower or new mom gift.


Babies DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Babies is the irresistible documentary by French filmmaker Thomas Balmès who filmed four babies from different countries for more than a year, showing brief vignettes of milestones from the bulge just before birth to their first steps. There is no narration, and only occasional dialogue overheard from adults in the background.  Despite cultural differences, the obvious fact that all parents want the best for their kids is never in doubt.


For us the most challenging example is the little African girl from a family of Namibian goatherds, who spends all her time on the ground with little more than bones and dogs to play with, though there are always other kids and at least two women sitting around to see to their needs, from offering milk to biting off parasites. Except for some older boys riding donkeys while the girls are on foot, men are almost never present. Most memorable moments include the girl’s exploration of anatomical differences with her big brother, and first steps with a tin cup on her head, predicting a lifetime of carrying water and other provisions.


The next child is a little boy living modestly but comfortably in a yurt surrounded by spectacular Mongolian landscape. His life is enriched by various livestock, including goats, cattle, poultry, and a cat. He also has a slightly older brother who teases him and gets scolded, just like anywhere else.  Again men are largely absent, except when the father takes mother and baby home from the hospital on the back of a motorcycle, and during an initiation ritual among chanting elders.  Memorable moments include the boy in his bath which a goat comes to drink, and an impressive rooster jumping up and strutting on his cot.


The other two examples are notable for their similarities rather than their differences.  Both are girls without siblings from educated middle class parents in Tokyo and San Francisco, respectively. Both fathers are somewhat involved. Each has a cat. Both mothers take them to enrichment activities with other mothers and kids, though the Japanese group is more numerous and regimented.  Memorable moments include the Japanese girl getting frustrated despite (or because of) being surrounded by books and toys, and the American kid going for the exit when the mother-child group starts into new age chanting.


An overall difference worth noting was in medical infrastructure around birthing, ranging from very basic in Namibia, through quite good in Socialist Mongolia, excellent in Japan, and, if anything, excessive in the U.S. (for those who can afford it), with the newborn covered in electrodes.


The DVD includes a delightful brief featurette of Thomas Balmès being welcomed into the homes of the children three years after filming to show them the finished product on his MacBook.


At under 80 minutes with excellent editing among short segments, Babies is never boring and always charming, suitable for all ages except in those unfortunate places where seeing nursing mothers may still be considered offensive.


Consensus: Babies is an interesting and cute documentary.  While it will appeal to most, in particular parents will love it, as will babies – especially since it’s pretty much dialogue-free. ***1/4 (Out of 4)

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