Babies: Year One 

Babies

Babies

At the risk of stating the obvious, Babies is a film about human life at its most fundamental. At the age before language, the babies in the documentary distill what we bumptious adults consider to be complex human emotions into facial expressions, interactions, and sounds. With no narration and all focus on the babies, the film makes for a uniquely entertaining time.

Babies, conceived (ha!) by Alain Chabat and directed and co-produced by Thomas Balmes, is a documentary that follows four tykes through their first year of life. Ponijao lives with her family in Opuwo, Namibia; Mari in Tokyo; Bayar with his family in rural Mongolia; and Hattie with her parents in San Francisco.

While true that the 79-minute baby montage is more charming to someone who actually likes babies, there is enough visual stimulation and cultural exploration here for even the least reproductively inclined. Vast panoramas of Mongolian countryside sidle up to the meticulously stacked skyline of Tokyo. Ponijao tromps around with dogs and detritus and plays face-down in river water, while Mari engages in organized play and baby yoga.

The juxtaposition of different worlds is definitely there, although the film rejects any outright judgments. And Babies is better for holding back the temptation to analyze various approaches to childrearing. The film leaves us to determine for ourselves that babies can survive without the protective shield of Lysol and child-safe toys. In fact, as Bayar's experience proves, you can throw a live rooster into the mix and babies will come out unscathed.

When Bayar's brother pushes him out in a stroller, leaves him in the field, and trots back to the yurt for some alone time, I can sympathize. When Mari struggles with an exercise in spatial perception and repeatedly throws herself onto the floor, she brings back memories of writing college papers — weeping and gnashing teeth. And when Hattie attempts to flee a Mother Earth, kumbaya-esque sing-along, I want to cheer on her efforts to bust out of there. (She's a girl after my own heart.)

More important than the "awww" factor, Babies succeeds at bringing us back to basics, testifying to a thread of humanity that dances and stomps in Namibia, pitches a fit in Tokyo, fumbles through social interactions in Mongolia, and tumbles off the slide in San Francisco.

Babies

Opens Friday, May 7th

Ridgeway Four

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • Alita: Battle Angel

      Sumptuous Visuals Save James Cameron’s Passion Project
    • The Kid Who Would Be King

      Director Joe Cornish presents a feel-good take on the legend of King Arthur
    • What Men Want

      Taraji P. Henson deserves better than this
ADVERTISEMENT

More by Hannah Sayle

  • Recipe for Success

    Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman on their new cookbook, Collards & Carbonara.
    • Aug 29, 2013
  • Midtown Magnetism

    Babalu fills in another Overton Square spot; Muddy’s to open on Cooper.
    • Aug 22, 2013
  • Open House

    The historic Magevney House will soon reopen to the public.
    • Aug 22, 2013
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Death Grip

    Memphis filmmaker Sam Bahre talks about his 11-year struggle to create I Filmed Your Death.
    • Apr 19, 2018
  • Fifty Shades Freed

    Feature length commercial for luxury goods or chilling glimpse into the post-human future?
    • Feb 16, 2018
  • War For The Planet Of The Apes

    Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson get down to serious monkey business
    • Jul 21, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2019

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation