Film Screening 19th October, 2011

Poster for Babies (Bébés)

Babies (Bébés) 

8:00 PM, 19th October, 2011

  • G
  • 76 mins
  • 2010
  • Thomas Balmès
  • Thomas Balmès 
  • Ponjiao, Mari, Bayar

A French documentary team chooses four newborn babies in four locations – San Francisco, Tokyo, Mongolia and Namibia – and follows each one through the first year of its life.

I admire their nerve. This kind of thing requires a huge investment of time and resources, and the return on this investment will be hundreds of hours of footage that only might contain a story. If there’s no story, the producers still have to release a movie. I think this is what happened: the hoped-for revelation that would tie everything together never arrived, but is in itself an interesting result, fascinating to watch play out on the screen.

It turns out that there’s nothing particularly enlightening or amazing that happens in the first year of a child’s life. Or rather, there is, but it’s all happening inside the child, invisible to cameras at this stage. Across different cultures, the babies all resemble one another; the parents all resemble one another (with the exception of fathers – and the main difference here is that the American and Japanese fathers are present most of the time, while I’m not sure we ever see the Namibian father); even the other animals featured in the film resemble one another (and the babies). Basically, this is a nature documentary, but with a focus on domestic animals like humans, rather than wild animals. There’s even music by Bruno Callais, who seems to have scored every French nature documentary since 1996. I think he’s required to by law.

Henry Fitzgerald