- Director: Ron Fricke
- Genre: Documentary
- Cert: 12A
- Details: US/102 mins
Ron Fricke's long-awaited follow up to 1992's Baraka is finally here. A perfect tonic for those in a funk, those who have a knack of seeking out the crap the world has to offer and then ranting about it, Samsara (Sanskrit for the wheel of life) is a beauty to behold. Fricke, doesn't shy away from the 'the crap', however. Did I just quote myself? Sorry – that's not on.
Shot over four years in twenty-five countries, Samsara is a continuation of Fricke's Chronos and Baraka. Through Fricke's camera, the world is presented in its potential, its loveliness; both natural landscapes and manmade monuments are equally beautiful in his eyes. But Fricke isn't naïve and this is no right-on hippy movie - Samsara doesn't ignore the horrible things that go on either. As in Baraka, Fricke takes us into the factories (in scenes that bring to mind Bosco when he went behind the green door) and shows us the systematic cruelty to animals: the battery hens, the rows and rows of cattle squeezed into their tiny compartments with tubes attached to every udder. It's almost like the harvesting fields in The Matrix.
Like Baraka, part of the fun is figuring out what Fricke is trying to tell us with his imagery. With scenes of lava tearing up the earth, sand engulfing houses, kids sifting through rubbish for something useful, towns ravaged by storms, plastic surgery patients, the Buddhist monks who painstakingly set about their sand painting, only to destroy it the moment they finish – Samsara seems to be about rebirth, about creation from destruction. But, thankfully, all this is open to interpretation.
Everyone's favourite Fricke bit, the time-lapse photography, is here in abundance, but also in abundance is the use of music. As I remember it Baraka relied on natural sound more often than not and used music sparingly but here Lisa Gerrard and co. accompany most visuals. It works - always works - but it's odd that Fricke opted for it.
Some describe Baraka and Samsara as documentaries without stories, without words, and although correct that's being very dismissive: what they are about is everything, and anyone even attempting that has to be commended. Not for everyone, but those looking for a ninety minute holiday featuring some of the most beautiful destinations the world has to offer should check this out. Incidentally, Baraka will be re-released for its twenty-year anniversary later this year. Woo-hoo! Another must for the big screen.
Review by Gavin Burke | 10:27 | Friday 31st August 2012 | Movie Review
I saw a preview of Samsara back in May. Spectacular. Find the biggest screen that's showing it and just let the images and sound wash over you like a wave...Posted 20:41 | Mon 27th Aug 2012
Incredible....film of the year by a long shot.Posted 20:38 | Tue 28th Aug 2012
Am looking forward to this great film with much anticipation. I have heard great reports on same.Posted 14:32 | Wed 29th Aug 2012
Just seen it today. Terrific. Except one scene SCARED me senseless; it was the scene where the man (or robot?) rubs clay all over his face... Anyone who has seen it knows what I'm talking about. Disturbing as hell. Anyone know what that bit was about? Truly terrifying.Posted 20:28 | Fri 31st Aug 2012
@ Doubleletter - yeah, that scene with the man rubbing clay into his face was unsettling. From my interpretation, he's a performance artist illustrating how we can all return to our primal, primitive roots, as in Lord Of The Flies.Posted 23:37 | Fri 31st Aug 2012
film biggest failing is in every scene it should mention where it is taken , deduct one star for thatPosted 21:47 | Fri 7th Sep 2012
Whatever mood I was in this movie resonated to the depts of my soul granted I had taken a few swigs of the hard stuff before I went to see a late showing. But that aside it is visually sumptuous to behold, the sounds haunted me long after the lights had come on. This movie is life reaffirming. You have to be in the mood for this; if you were not expecting this it could pass you by and bore you.Posted 21:22 | Fri 14th Dec 2012
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