Film Analysis Essay on Babies by Thomas Balmes

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1491 Words
Date:  2022-08-18


The film Babies by Thomas Balmes is a documentary that tracks four newborns from various regions across the world. The babies are from different cultures, which is to demonstrate the impact of culture on child development. The documentary is not accompanied by narration, allowing the film to place emphasis on the babies and the subsequent interactions with the surrounding environment. These babies are from, Namibia, Japan, California, and Mongolia. The movie depicts that babies develop cognitively, socially, physically and emotionally at infancy and during toddlerhood. The period of infancy and toddlerhood is marked with physiological changes in the brain and the body to support the development of an array of perceptual, motor and intellectual capacities.

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On watching the film directed by Thomas Balmes, it is clear that greater insights have been given to the various childbearing practices across different cultures. In the movie, four distinct cultures are shown with many positive and negative practices of child-rearing approaches (Berk & Meyers, 2016). The film documents four babies from the period of birth until when they are roughly one year of age. The most interesting aspect of the piece is that there is no narration, which works in simplifying the interpretation of the film to understand the similarities and differences between the four cultures. As it becomes evident, words tend to complicate some concepts and it is easier when they are left to the audience for interpretation based on their beliefs and cultures. Lack of narration eliminated a substantial level of bias and ethnocentric perceptions in the child-rearing environment.

In the movie, some babies had an upper hand developmentally than others. From the Western point of view, babies Mari and Hattie, from Tokyo and California respectively, depicted advantages developmentally over Ponijia and Bayar, from Namibia and Mongolia respectively. The former had access to critical resources at their infancy to support child rearing. Shelter and food are vital for development, not to mention parental love and care. Other resources, such as educational movies, toys, educational centers, and recreational parks are not paramount to in determining the development advantages. Hattie had access to toys, and books for infant and parental interaction (Brooks, 2011). Despite the resources, the baby seemed not healthy or happy in her life. Contrarily, the baby was discontented and temperamental by her surroundings and was crying Tokyo, Mari was exposed to numerous playgroups, toys, books, and educational activities. She was extremely satisfied with all that was available and rarely cried. All these children had access to similar resources but a different level of temperament. The movie demonstrates that healthy and positive child development it is not subject to materialistic elements.

The physical development of the babies offers children with the abilities necessary to interact and explore their surroundings. In the movies, the babies were breastfed and the activity is perceived as the best approach to fighting malnutrition in poverty-stricken areas. The four babies appear to be well nourished. Most of these babies regularly show rooting reflex where open their mouths to locate the nipples of their mothers (Brooks, 2011). The gross motor skills of the babies develop as the movie progresses. After Bayar was introduced to his home, he was swaddled tightly in a warm cloth. On the other hand, Ponijao was not swaddled because he spent most of his time on his mother's arms or laps. As it appears, Ponijao does not face any difficulty walking unlike Bayar, who struggles to find balance and crawling, although both walk ultimately. Great motor skills are depicted when Hattie without any assistance peels off a banana. She used pincer grasp since was able to coordinate her thumb and index finger to grasp the fruit. Mari additionally demonstrates such skills when attempting to position a sticker on a paper.

Information processing, reasoning, intelligence, memory and language development of babies is also a theme in the film. The theme is commonly referred to as cognitive development with each child having a distinct environment for interaction. Mari and Hattie were from the most industrialized cities where they had myriads of toys and objects to play with unlike Bayar and Ponijao, who relied on nature to source their toys (Berk & Meyers, 2016). Mari interacted with nature with sticks and leaves being his toys. She depicted secondary circular reactions upon exploring the surrounding objects. Language development is critical and depicted throughout the movie. According to Balmes, the four babies experienced differently with their caregivers, which had a distinct impact on language development. Ponijao's mother and his siblings have always been around unlike Mari and Hattie. Most of the time, Bayar was left alone sleeping by himself. Interactions with parents were depicted through babbling and cooing of babies because of the sounds they replicated from the talking and singing by their mothers.

The emotional and social development of children is based on their experiences, management, and expression of emotions, as well as the capacity to establish rewarding and positive relationships with their surroundings (Brooks, 2011) . The reactivity or temperament, as well as self-regulation of each child, is seen after they are born. Ponijao appears content with the surrounding, possibly due to her interaction with the community. There is a case in the movie where the baby starts crying after a bottle is taken from her. The scene shows how the baby is dealing with emotions of anger or sadness, and later they start hitting each other as a way of dealing with their emotions.

The interaction of Bayar with his parents is marginal and it can be the cause of the anger depicted during breastfeeding. The baby does not feel the bond or the emotional connection with the mother because of the apparent separation. The separation can result in aggregation as revealed when confronting the cat. Upon being hit by his brother, Bayar is furious and his emotions correlate with physical appearance. Hattie and Mari both attended classes with other babies where they interacted and sung. They all do not comprehend the relevance of such classes by it was to boost their interactions and development of critical skills.

The film shows that different cultures and the related culture have a great impact on child development. All the babies in the movies were exposed to different stimuli and environment. Mari and Hattie had real toys whereas Ponijao and Bayar had sticks, animals and various aspects of nature. Conversely, all the babies learned and explored from their experiences. Despite these babies being raised from different environments, they still experienced a similar developmental path. They started to crawl before walking and talking (Berk & Meyers, 2016). Although some were faster compared to the others, they ultimately followed the same path, showing the impact of environmental factors on the rate of childhood development. Culture dictates the type of food, clothing, and medicine a child is given and these are critical in development.


Babies movie is a film nature film devoid of political motivation, commentary or philosophy. Upon visiting the babies during the period, the director follows their development and blossoming of the characters and personalities to comprehend how they are socialized by their cultures. As a portrait of infants who are loved and wanted, it is intimate and delightful. Despite the adorable antics of these quartets, the environment becomes less fascinating as the film progresses. The film offers more than the cuteness quotient, providing critical insights on maternal instincts from nursing to cooing of the infants. Thomas Balmes selected four women who were about to give birth, with two of these women having already experienced motherhood with the remaining from industrialized countries. There are supportive dads that back their roles and their daily schedules vary with the culture of the surrounding area. Whether the setting is grassy plain, tribal village or kids classes, the four babies start gurgling and gaping as visiting otherworldly creatures. The lack of voice-over narration fits the preverbal stars and makes viewers into active observers, reexamining assumptions and sorting relationships. most of the time working along with a tripod an high density camera, Balmes shoots with high selectiveness, dedicating most of his hours to the four children. Hardwired as the audience are in responding to infancy, it is extremely difficult to be drawn into the inherent cuteness. The emotional connection of the filmmaker to his subjects is apparently clear and casts human story in a completely fresh perspective even when Babies loses steam. The environment plays a key role in shaping child development and parents should strike to provide the right conditions to support childrearing. Culture dictates the type of food, clothing, and medicine a child is given and these are critical in development.


Balmes, T. (Director), Balmes, T. (Writer), & Chabat, A., Billot, A., & Rouxel, C. (Producers). (n.d.). Babies [Video file].

Berk, L. E. & Meyers, A. B. (2016) Infants, children, and adolescents (8th edition). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Brooks, A. (2011). Physical development in babies and children. Retrieved from 5367 553 article.htm

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Film Analysis Essay on Babies by Thomas Balmes. (2022, Aug 18). Retrieved from

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