Babies: a Documentary Film Essay

2616 Words Nov 20th, 2012 11 Pages
‘Babies’ is a documentary film which chronicles the first year of life of four babies spanning the globe. Documentarian Thomas Balmès fans out to the grasslands of Namibia, the plains of Mongolia, the high rises of Tokyo and the busy streets of San Francisco in a study of culture, societal structure, geography and tradition, along with parental love and the impact all these elements have on child rearing. In the hunting and gathering society of Namibia and pastoral Mongolia, Balmès follows Ponijao and Bayar and in postindustrial Tokyo and San Francisco we are introduced to Mari and Hattie. While the 1:18 film has no real dialogue, viewers are able to get a distinct feel for each baby’s personality, the role they play within the family …show more content…
It appears, however, that the herd was very aware of the baby and in a strange sense is protective of the toddler Bayar. There is a good dose of sibling rivalry as the older child seems to take pleasure in taunting the baby. He attempts to force feed him a biscuit in a teasing manner and in another scene is captured hitting Bayar in the face with a piece of clothing, careful to make sure no one sees him. There is a family gathering where guests arrive on horseback but it seems this type of contact is rare. There is also interaction with other children as Bayar is gets older and spends more time outside the hut. In Mongolia, Bayar and his family have few modern conveniences but seem to enjoy a happy sustainable life. The third baby featured is Mari in the metropolis of Tokyo, Japan. This is a modern society with busy streets and people moving about freely. Although Mari’s mother is the primary caregiver, the father plays a role in Mari’s infancy albeit distracted at times. In a scene from ‘Babies’, the father stands over Mari on the bed and ferociously shakes a rattle in her face while talking on the phone and in another, he allows her to crawl about his office while he is completely distracted by his work on the computer. It seems in a sense he acts as more of a babysitter than a significant caregiver. Nevertheless, Mari is the focus of family life and there are many conveniences available to the infant. Mari has the benefit of growing up with many

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