Thomas Balmes Gives Humans the Wildlife Documentary Treatment
The Namibian cluster of stick and grass huts, far in
the desert of southwest Africa, looks
untouched by recent technology. The Mongolian family lives in a yurt with a
satellite dish and an electric generator; their baby is born in a hospital and
wrapped tightly by the nurse in swaddling clothes, following an ancient and
widespread nativity custom. The hospital and home environments in Tokyo and Frisco are
familiar and comfortably middle class.
The anthropological comparisons are interesting,
especially the ways in which children are socialized in different cultures. The
movie is beautifully filmed and virtually wordless except for the cooing
chatter of parents. Given its presentation, it’s impossible not to think of Babies as a wildlife documentary with
human children as the species under observation.
Babies is screening at the Downer Theatre.