Friday, February 18, 2011
Back to Babies, The Movie
Happy Friday, Meltingpot Readers,
I finally saw the documentary film Babies last weekend. I actually bought a copy of the DVD at a toy story that was going out of business. My sons and I watched it and it was wonderful. For those of you unfamiliar with the film, it's pretty basic. The director decided to follow four children in four different parts of the world -- Namibia, Tokyo, San Franscisco and a small village in Mongolia -- for one year. Or as they say in the film, from their first breath to their first steps.
Their is no dialogue in the film, really, the only sound is the gurgling, cooing, and crying of the babies as they develop. The parents and other adult voices really become inconsequential background noise. I thought my boys -- ages six and nine -- might be bored with the 90-minute film, but they remained as delighted and entranced as I, as we watched the various ways these babies made sense of their world.
I believe the filmmakers purpose in making this film was simply to show how universal parenting is, despite the vastly different methods and materials used. In addition, I felt it was a bit of a wake-up call to some of us Western parents who get caught up with all the baby stuff we're encouraged to buy to keep our babies happy/satisfied/stimulated/on the right track/quiet/healthy. There is this one scene where we see the Japanese baby surrounded by her toys. She gets so frustrated with one particular toy because she can't make it do what it is supposed to do that she just throws herself on the ground flailing in agony. This scene is immediately contrasted with a shot of the Mongolian baby playing in his house, tied to the bed so he doesn't get into mischief and amusing himself with a roll of toilet paper. He is so happy with that toilet paper. We still laugh about the toilet paper scene.
All in all, this is a great film for a Sunday afternoon with or without your kids. There's a lot to learn about these four different cultures and lessons in child-rearing abound. Like, if your child eats dirt, she probably won't die. I have to remember that, being the germ freak that I am.
Has anybody else seen Babies? What did you think? I just read that the director is planning a follow up film when the babies enter school. That's going to be good!