'Babies' documentary takes four from around the world and follows their first steps.
As high concepts go, "Babies" is a doozy. It may do for babies what "March of the Penguins" did for penguins. It's a documentary about four babies, chosen from around the world, from birth to their first toddling steps. There are many things one can say about this film but, essentially, it all comes down to one word: Awwww.
French film director Thomas Balmes and his producer Alain Chabat – who is credited with the film's "original idea" – began by scouring the globe for people who were genuinely happy to be having a child. (How did they determine this?) The goal was to make "a wildlife film on human babies," and they finally found their families, or more precisely, their pregnant mothers, in 2006. Filming for the next two years, Balmes shuttled across the continents.
The lead players are anything but camera-shy, although Balmes is careful not to show us shots of babies peering into the lens. There's big-eyed Ponijao, who lives in Namibia with her extended family in the Himba tribe. Bayar, from Mongolia, is tormented by his older brother and likes cows. Mari, who throws one of the great tantrums in movies when she can't figure out a puzzle, lives with her family in Tokyo; Hattie is with her parents in San Francisco. The predominately female roster is pure coincidence – Balmes chose the mothers before they gave birth.