Greetings again from the darkness. About 4 months ago I saw this trailer and knew immediately I wanted to see it. The word "documentary" is usually box office death, with only a few exceptions. Those exceptions usually involve penguins and Morgan Freeman. Sorry, no penguins here. Only babies. And goats. And cats.
Director Thomas Balmes from France had a pretty good idea - show the first year of life for four babies from different parts of the world. The babies are from Namibia, Mongolia, Tokyo and San Francisco. It seems his ideas pretty much stopped there. What we see are interlocking scenes of each of the babies at similar stages of developments. The stark contrast in environment seems to be the driving force of photography.
Developed countries vs. un-developed countries. Is it best to raise your child in the wilderness or in the big city? Does it even matter? We see babies rolling on dirt hut floors and poking at goat's ears. We see other babies going through baby yoga and group therapy sessions. Apparently the big surprise is that all four babies learn to crawl, walk and talk no matter the level of luxury or amount of parental attention.
Roger Ebert says all babies are cute. Any fan of "Seinfeld" will tell you that's just not true. What is true is that babies are curious and observant and creative. No one knows if the over-indulgent and over-protectiveness of high society actually helps or stifles the development of babies. What we do know is that life finds a way and babies keep growing and learning, whether in a hot tub with mom or in a bowl that a wild goat uses as drinking water.
I just wish the director had put more substance into the delivery. We are simply observers in quick snapshots of each baby. We get very little from the parents or other kids. The obvious points are made, but in the end, this feels a bit empty and probably better served on the National Geographic channel than the local cinema.
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