Selon une légende talmudique, lorsqu'un enfant naît, il possède encore le savoir ultime de ses vies antérieures. C'est alors qu'un ange apparaît et lui enjoint de tenir ce savoir secret. L'ange pose son doigt sur la lèvre de l'enfant et à cet instant précis, le bébé oublie tout pour entrer dans la vie. Du geste de l'ange, il reste une trace : le petit creux qui dessine un fossé entre notre lèvre supérieure et la base de notre nez... Alors seulement, il peut pousser son premier cri.
According to a legend from the Talmud, when a child is born it possesses the ultimate knowledge of its previous lives. But then an angel appears, forbidding the child to reveal this knowledge. The angel puts a finger on the child's lips and at that precise moment the child forgets everything in order to step into life. The angel's finger leaves a mark: the small hollow which traces a dimple between our upper lip and the base of the nose... Just then, the child can utter its first cry.
I have been planning a post about this amazing film for some weeks now. I found it hard to start, hard to find the words for something so beautiful and yet simple and natural like giving birth. Maybe it's because the images and voices in the film echo inside of me, calling to mind my personal experience and melting words and thoughts to a blurred turmoil of emotions, the most precious, reverberating everywhere in my flesh and blood. The moment I saw my daughter, heard her voice, smelled her, hugged her. The overwhelming joy, the biggest love ever conceivable, but also the fear and the weird sensation of truly "being a mammal".
So this post will probably sound like a downpour of feelings, I don't claim it to be a review.
Gilled de Maistre filmed a series of documentaries set in a maternity ward in Paris, and being in contact with mothers and their newborn babies suggested him that there's something extraordinarily universal about birth-giving, and he wanted to explore it across the world and its variety of cultures. There are many rituals and habits connected to the act of giving birth, and there are many ways of welcoming the new tiny life, yet the emotions involved seem to be the same, expressed both in the first look of the mother to her child and in the child's first cry.
For about two years, Gilles de Maistre and his collaborators met pregnant women all around the globe, listening to their stories. In the end, ten of them were picked, and the film presents them in their last days of pregnancy, caught in those hard moments of weariness and expectation, enthusiasm and fear. Some of them live in busy cities, others in the desert, others by the shores of the Ganga river. Some experience a fully hospitalized delivery, others have no other help than that of their own mother and of the other women of their group of nomads. The different experiences are interwoven, so that we follow more than one at a time, shifting from the most different ways of life, and death.A beautiful music accompanies us along the way.
Vanessa, the first future mother we encounter, lives with her partner and many friends in a house in Maine, and she is determined to have a natural delivery at home, with no medical help whatsoever, accepting all possible consequences, including death. In this way, she feels that she can fully live this unique step in her life, listening to the wisdom of nature and to the ancient knowledge of her body.
Mané, a Tuareg living in the Sahara desert, delivers a stillborn after a night in labour, lying in an improvised hut built on the sand for her. A Siberian nomad is taken to a small hospital by helicopter, where she undergoes a caesarean section. She returns to the her frozen, barren land with her baby girl packed and wrapped in various layers of blankets.
This film has a magnetic quality, you simply can't take your eyes off the screen, and your heart off the different stories. It's a wonderful film, showing with disarming simplicity the miracle of life in a blend of different stories and voices that feel so recognizable and close.
A truly unforgettable film I recommend to everyone.