The documentary Babies by Thomas Balmès is a film that takes place in four very different locations around the world. The documentary follows four babies and their families from when they are first born as they grow up and are able to walk. We watch Ponijao grow up in Namibia, Bayar grow up in Mongolia, Hattie grow up in San Francisco, and Mari grow up in Tokyo. Because the babies are from such different places, the documentary allows us to see what it is like growing up in cultures that we are currently unfamiliar with. The film opens up your eyes to the various forms of living in other areas around the world. In this paper, I will discuss the universal themes I noticed, my personal reflection of the film, the various parenting philosophies on how to raise children, human nature, and the additional culture I would have like to see added to the film. Universal Themes
The main universal themes that I noticed throughout the movie were family and love. Even though each child was growing up in such a different environment than the others, each was shown love from their parents and family members. They were all treated very differently, but this still spent a lot of time with their families. However, the time they spent with their families was very different. The babies from Mongolia and Namibia spent time with their family outside while their parents skinned the animals they had killed to feed them. The babies from San Francisco and Tokyo spent much of their time inside playing games with their parents or in parent-child classes with other babies. In the cases of Ponijao and Bayar, they spent a lot of time with their siblings. However, their siblings did not always care for them in the best ways. Ponijao’s siblings often held him in very unsafe ways, and I even noticed them eating food off of each other’s bodies. Bayar’s brother was very rough with him. He would force big pieces of food into Bayar’s mouth and hit him repeatedly until he cried. With each child, we were able to see that they had a large family, even though it wasn’t immediate. Hattie’s and Mari’s grandparents were often with them for celebrations. Ponijao had a large family and was often seen with more than five people with him all the time. Each parent had very different ways of bonding with their children. Ponijao’s mother would often sing and dance around with him, Bayar’s mother brought him outside with her while she worked on the farm, and Hattie’s and Mari’s mothers often played inside with their kids and took their children to mother-daughter bonding classes. Each child lived across the world from one another so they were each shown love in such a variety of ways. Personal Reflection
This film affected me in many different ways, but I would say my main emotion was shock. The first thing I was shocked about was how the Ponijao grew up in Namibia. He was born in a hut with no doctors or equipment to help him or the mother. It was extremely dirty and there were bugs everywhere. At one point when his mother is holding him, he begins to defecate so to clean him up, she just wipes the feces on herself. I was also shocked when I saw Ponijao eating off the ground. He would pick up sticks and bones and chew on them and no one would stop him. He would also stick his tongue out for the stray dogs to lick. When the children were just learning how to walk, they went to the river and were drinking out of it. I would be very scared that my baby would drown at that age.
The main thing that shocked me in this film was that even though each child grew up in such different situations and places, they all began to crawl, walk, and talk around the same time, and they even had very similar first words. Ponijao was born into a hut made out of branches and mud in Africa, Bayar was born into a tent on a farm in Asia, Hattie was born into a house that we would consider normal in America, and Mari was born into an industrialized, crowded city in Japan. Even...
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