Oerall, Le Premier Cri was a hauntingly beautiful film. It followed women from around the world as they gave birth. The film was part-documentary, part-fiction. The women and their birth were all real, but they did not actually all give birth during a solar eclipse, as the film shows. The cinematography was beautiful and seamless--no hand-held home video feel anywhere. It was a documentary in the style of March of the Penguins or Babies or Microcosmos, in which the characters themselves tell the bulk of the story. There was no meta-narration, no talking heads, no interviews with any of the women. Just beautifully filmed scenes of the women living and laboring and birthing, with French voiceovers of each woman telling her own story. (The film has English subtitles for non-Francophones).
I loved the parallel editing in Le Premier Cri. For example, in the beginning of the movie, we see a Mexican woman swimming with dophins and floating in an azure ocean, an Amazonian woman bathing and swimming in a jungle river, and a French Canadian woman swimming in a lake. Then we see the three of them being painted. One has the baby in utero painted onto her belly; another has her entire face and body painted to beautify her for her baby's arrival, and another models nude for a group of artists.
The film follows women all over the world:
Majtonré, a Kayapo Indian in the Brazilian Amazon, is expecting her third baby. She gives birth in her hut at night, holding onto a horizontal wooden bar. Suspended in a half-squat, half-sit, she cries quietly in pain as the baby emerges. Her body is adorned with intricate patterns and stripes of paint.
Gaby & Pilar in Cancun and Puerto Vallerta, Mexico, plan ocean/dolphin births. Gaby lives near the water's edge. When labor begins, she floats in her large swimming pool. She plans to move to a nearby secluded beach for the actual birth, but the baby arrives too quickly. Soon after the birth, she is carried in a makeshift stretcher to that beach, where she coos over her new baby.
Pilar has her first baby in a dolphinarium. Two trained dolphins swim alongside her as she pushes her baby out.
Vanessa, a Quebecoise sharing a house in Maine with her partner and 8 others, have an unassisted birth for their first baby. Although their birth is without a midwife, it certainly isn't private. The commune members crowd around, watching her labor and birth.
This is truly a must-see film. Buy it from amazon.fr, borrow a friend's copy, interlibrary loan it, request it for your birthday present...whatever it takes!