The Special One and I went to a movie premiere last night. Admittedly there was no Tom Cruise or Keira Knightley to wow the crowds, but then, this was no ordinary movie premiere.
“The Business Of Being Born” is billed by some as a “The Inconvenient Truth” of American childbirth, providing a faintly chilling insight into obstetrics in the United States. While 70% of births in Europe are attended by midwives, here it is less than 8%, with most mothers handled by surgeons in hospitals who’ve rarely – if ever – seen a live birth before they handle their first.
Essentially the filmmakers (Abby Epstein and former talkshow host Ricki Lake) are proponents of natural birth and homebirth, and if the sheer and unrestrained joy on the faces of the mothers moments after giving birth naturally in the movie is anything to go by, it’s difficult to argue against it. Certainly, given that The Special One gave birth to both The Eldest and The Youngest at home, you’re not going to find any argument here.
Compelling though the documentary was, it also reminded me of how the United States has more of an island mentality than anything that Britain could ever conjure up.
Dr Michael Odent is a French OB/GYN who features at length in the movie, talking movingly about the connection between mother and child, and the importance of the chemicals released during birth in establishing a mother’s love for her newly born. He speaks in English, and very good English at that. But he speaks, inevitably, with a clear French accent. Nothing though that couldn’t be understood by anybody who can a) speak English and b) hear.
But that didn’t stop the filmmakers from feeling the need to subtitle every single word he said.
Essentially if anybody ‘speaks a bit foreign’ in movies or TV in America, they stick a subtitle on it. French or Mexican, Taiwanese or German, it doesn’t matter whether they’re speaking English or their native language. Forget a need to cater for the ‘hard of hearing’, this is a palpable concern for the ‘hard of intelligence’.
I can only assume that there’s a feisty union who threaten to go out on strike unless filmmakers keep subtitling levels above a certain point. Before long they’ll be sticking subtitles on 24 whenever Chloe speaks. And it’s best not to think about what would have happened if they’d ever brought Auf Wiedersehn Pet over here.
Anyway, if you get the chance to see “The Business Of Being Born”, you honestly should go. Frightening and heartwarming in equal measures, it leaves you with real food for thought.
And I never once needed to put my iPod on and go to sleep as colleagues had suggested might be necessary.
PS When I told The Youngest that we had seen Ricki Lake the previous night, her response was “who’s he?” That’s showbiz!