Samsara (2011)

Samsara PosterSamsara is one of the most beautiful, disturbing, elating and haunting films I have seen. It is the third film collaboration by director Ron Fricke and producer Mark Magidson.

Their first film was Chronos (1985) was a 43 minute IMAX film that is regarded as the first non-verbal non-fiction motion picture. Sadly in Australia I have only ever come across a 4:3 version of this film and have not seen it in its full 65mm 1:78:1 aspect, but it is still a beautiful piece of film showing the grandeur of our planet to a very elegant musical score.

Their second film Baraka (1992) was a far more impressive film. Shot on 70mm in 2:20:1 aspect, it was released in Australia in 1994 and had a profound effect on me. Featuring footage of 24 countries, filmed over to an epic musical score, the film displayed some of the epic wonder of our planet and the people upon it, while also showing a number of the ills of our modern society. I have seen this film over 20 times since its release and it is one of the few films I have found that truly benefits from the Blu-Ray High Definition format. Baraka means 'blessing'.

Samsara (2011), released to the general public this year, is an intellectual and thematic continuation of Baraka, once more offering a range of visuals from 25 countries and filmed over 5 years. Samsara means 'the cycle of death and rebirth to which life in the material world is bound.' The name informs the viewer of the nature of this venture, being a weightier film than the 20 year old Baraka. The visuals that the team has put together must have been a logistical nightmare to obtain, ranging from Thiksey Monastery in India, to sweat shops in China, the Hawaiian Volcanoes to the Chateau de Versailles, the Ninth Ward of New Orleans to Mecca.

From the moment the film begins you are entranced, ensnared. For the next 100 minutes your life belongs to film. The musical score controls the rhythm of your breath, the images your thoughts. It is a meditation on the world and your place within it, taking you from calm to elated glory at the wonder of the natural world, human rituals, as well as the traditional and modern world we have built, then through to roiling distressed horror at the inconsistencies of how human life operates, before returning you to the epic beauty of our world and the people upon it.

Samsara is a wonderful film project that engages you, emotionally and philosophically, and the experience can not be shed immediately upon leaving the cinema.

A joyous and concerning film that I think everyone should watch. 9/10 for sheer epic brilliance.

Samsara (2011) Trailer

Baraka (1992) Trailer


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