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TOTAL BABY

USA, 1993 (MIFF 1994, Documentaries)

Director: Kate Davis, Alyson Denny

Infant rearing experts and entrepreneurs vie for the viewer's attention as they offer new and improved ways to create a baby for the 90s. We are offered the latest trends, from video aerobics for infants to womb-shaped stress-reduction pillows and cooking classes for toddlers aimed at perfecting the American middle-class child from birth to three years of age.

"Would you like to see a Rembrandt? I can show you a Rembrandt," chirps a young mother, displaying a reproduction to her baby. In classic anthropological style, the filmmakers stand a bit outside the culture they are scrutinising. Today's elaborate attempts to sharpen skills in infancy are set against a history of infant-rearing in the Western world, from Ancient Roman infanticide to the Infant Stimulation Revolution of the 1980s. Total Baby's startling parade of theories and practices may in the end tell us more about the adults than the babies.

"Total Baby is a wry look at the way parents, scientists and the baby industry use those gurgling thumbsuckers as canvases on which to paint their hopes and neuroses. The sacred cow of scientific theory [is] blithely tipped by Total Baby."
- David D. Kim, Village Voice

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