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You have it admire the simple brilliance of the concept: If you film a baby for long enough, you will inevitably get adorable footage. Human beings are hard-wired to melt at the sight of babies in general—it’s how the species survived. And if you film four babies, it shouldn’t take long before you have enough adorable footage to fill a feature film. Now that digital technology has removed the expense of film, it’s possible to keep cameras rolling more or less indefinitely. So all that was left was for some smart producer to convince a cameraman and four families to authorize shooting, spread out over the course of two years, and to hire editors patient enough to comb through the footage looking for the good stuff. The result is Babies, a movie that will strike many people as the most precious thing since the photos of their own grandkids (who should have been cast in this, but it’s all who you know) and many other people as the world’s longest YouTube video.

Despite being nearer the latter camp than the former, I must admit that the quality of filming is appreciably better than you get on YouTube—director Thomas Balmes used tripods instead of handheld cameras to keep his four subjects situated in place, which makes all the difference in the world. The contrasting environments of the babies (one each in Namibia, Mongolia, Tokyo, and San Francisco) are what give the film its universality. I might have liked a little insight into the differing structures of the four families, but Babies (which has only incidental dialogue) gives you no hard information other than the names of its locations. And while two of the families are rural while two are urban, there is nothing to argue for the superiority of one way of life over any other: Balmes’ point is to show babies developing with no unusual impediments. I can’t imagine that a lot of people will be arguing whether to see this or Iron Man 2 this weekend, but if comic book blockbusters aren’t your cup of tea, this might prove that the market is still interested in your ticket dollars.

m. faust

Watch the trailer for Babies

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