We start with four very different cities. Then four very pregnant women. Then four fresh little lives. The babies.

There's Ponijao, who lives with her mother and seven older siblings near Opuwo, Namibia. Bayarjargal, who lives with his parents and older brother in Mongolia, near Bayanchandmani. Mari, who lives with her parents in Tokyo, Japan. And finally Hattie, who lives with her parents in San Francisco.

Babies documents the first year of these four little lives, offering alternating peeks into their quiet moments of slumber and their noisy temper tantrums. We're silent observers to their daily realities.

What's most striking at first is the huge difference in the locations and conditions. Ponijao's family in Namibia spends most days outside in the dirt. There's very little clothing (read: lots of low-hanging breasts and little baby bums) and lots of flies, but lots of human contact with the gaggle of family members. Ponijao is strapped on her mom's back while she performs difficult manual labor, getting jostled back and forth. Playthings consist of rocks, empty water bottles, a river, a mangy looking dog. It's a very tactile and simple existence.

Bayarjargal's family are nomads, living on the huge open land of the Mongolian countryside. Bayar's mom catches a ride home from the hospital on the back of her husband's motorbike, carrying Bayar in her arms as they traverse the road-less, hilly terrain (Bayar's older brother stands in front and hangs onto the handlebars). Their house is a sophisticated hut surrounded by their cattle. Animals—cattle, goats, the family cat—meander in and out of their lives with familiarity and daily ease. It's a very agrarian and austere existence.

Mari's parents live in a high-rise apartment ...

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Our Rating
3 Stars - Good
Average Rating
(4 user ratings)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
PG (for cultural and maternal nudity throughout)
Directed By
Thomas Balmès
Run Time
1 hour 19 minutes
Bayar, Hattie, Mari, Ponijao
Theatre Release
May 07, 2010 by Focus Features
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