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Until they make a movie entirely consisting of raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, Hallmark cards, and puppies in the window, this will hold the record as the most awwwwwww-inspiring movie ever made.
Director Thomas Balmes and his crew take us into the lives of four brand-new people and their families, babies in Tokyo, Mongolia, Namibia, and San Francisco. And that’s it. Babies sleeping, babies getting dirty, babies getting clean, babies crying, babies being comforted, babies smiling, babies playing, babies learning, learning, learning — and babies teaching everyone around them, too, to the narration-free accompaniment of a wistful score from “Coraline’s” Bruno Coulais.
Each of the stories is touching. The deepest part of our nature as humans wonders at and cares for these magical creatures, who zoom from newborns to people who can walk and talk and have views in a matter of months. The connections between these babies and their families are a powerful reminder of all we share, but the contrasts are a powerful and sometimes disturbing reminder of the distance between us. American parents who carefully strap our babies in car seats and boil their pacifiers every time they fall on the floor will find it unsettling to see all four members of the Mongolian family climb on a motorcycle and the Namibian baby sucking on a bone she dug out of the dirt. And they may wince at the casual plenty of the American baby’s books and toys or the casual smugness of the music class where the parents and their babies sing a Native American song in some reach for the kind of authenticity the African baby comes by naturally — and pays for with limited opportunities for health care and education. The credit sequence gives us a glimpse of the babies today (age 4). Our greatest wish for these babies may be that before they are old enough to be rocking their own children to sleep we find a way to do more to protect the health and safety of all of the world’s children.