Monday, October 25, 2010

McBone Mini-Reviews; The McBone Week in Movies

Babies - The concept of the French documentary film Babies is total genius.  A filmmaking crew led by director Thomas Balmès follows four children chosen from four corners of the globe through the first year of their respective lives.  For 80 minutes we see how different cultures feed, wash, play with and generally raise their children.  The families in question hail from San Francisco, Tokyo, Mongolia and Namibia.  With no narration, Balmès makes a wise choice in letting the babies tell their own stories.  You'll be amazed by how articulate they are.

Unfortunately, the film comes with a built-in disadvantage.  Most viewers will be at least somewhat familiar with the largely westernized lifestyles of the San Francisco and Tokyo families.  Not so with the agrarian Mongolians and the tribal Namibians, both of whom far outshine their American and Japanese counterparts.  We've all seen a kid playing in a metropolitan park before.  Few of us have seen a Namibian mother use her knee to wipe her child's ass and then clean the knee with a corn cob.  That's how this African mom rolls in her village, where there is no toilet and sure as hell no toilet paper.  Indeed, I found myself longing with great impatience to spend the majority of my time in sub-Saharan Africa, and in Mongolia, where the goats amble up to drink from the baby's bathwater.  As the film progresses, you can feel the same longing from Balmès, who can't help but revel in the unfamiliar displays of humanity.  For a documentary that is one half a revelation, one half a letdown and 100 percent well conceived, I say that Babies deserves: 3.5 McBones



Kid Shay said...

I was astounded that this movie didn't make a billion dollars at the box office.

McBone said...

I know! Seems like something people would flock to. Never got any momentum though.