Babies the Documentary Review: Four Corners of the World’s Infants CONT
To answer the question of are all babies relatively the same, the short answer is: yes. They need their poop cleaned up and they cry…a lot. If a baby falls down, whether in a yurt on the Asian steppes or in a Japanese apartment, they will cry. They will carry on until someone picks them up. If they have siblings they will be both loved and harassed. If there are animals around be it cat, dog or goat, there will be inquisitive interaction. But without a doubt, they are irresistibly, adorable when exploring their surroundings, regardless if it is a pristinely tiled floor or a vastness of a dirt desert. They absolutely do the darndest things which evoke the awe and wonder and miracle that every parent sees in their own child. And that doesn’t matter where your geographical location is.
Being from a world where I write daily about cute frilly dresses and baby shower favors and decorations, the mere idea of strapping Bayar papoose style for a motorcycle trip mere hours after he is born seems absolutely ludicrous to me. The scare tactic-riddled paranoia possessed by affluent society (San Francisco and Tokyo) parents was the biggest ‘aha’ moment the BL staff could all agree on while discussing it afterwards. And, granted, I know that I am a perpetuating this psychosis. In our society we are obsessed with not touching things for the sake of germs, with having must-have and must-need products, with ‘the right’ educational development toys, with hot technology to make baby’s life perfect. Seeing the stark contrast of Bayar and Ponijao, whose lives are essentially not disturbed by anything modern be it conveniences, medicine, or parents constantly bombarded by the latest and greatest parenting method, was the fundamental message we came away with.
Perhaps it is not a cause for a massive freak out if your baby crawls across the carpeted floor of your home if you haven’t vacuumed it in a week. Clearly a baby can crawl across the ground that a herd of cows—cows!—is on and the parents barely batted an eye. Is it necessary to constantly stimulate a baby with the gadgetry of videos, toys, noise makers, and other colorful objects that might dangle over them be it the mobile in their crib or arch over their playmat? Definitely not, as this film shows that one infant is just as enamored by staring at the clouds in the sky.
The most difficult moment I had personally in watching the movie was with the Japanese baby Mari. She cried and cried and cried and in a very Ferber method type way and the parents let her. Was this actually the Ferber method on screen or is this simply the custom in Japan? I have no idea, subtitles would have really led to insight into this. It’s disturbing for me to watch a baby cry, for whatever reason and not have that maternal instinct to coo and calm and cuddle into submission rather than let the baby scream it’s head off until it wears itself out.
These infants were delightful to watch grow and prove that all babies regardless of status, ethnicity or religion, are tiny, curious, innocent, and in this case photogenic creatures. Much like how Oprah does her ‘Day in the Life of a 30-Year-Old Woman Around the World’ type shows, I would love to watch a sequel with only third world country babies or vastly ones different cultures (Polynesia, Yemen, and Bolivia come to mind) or contrast them with a different modern society like maybe London.