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Baraka
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Reviews & Ratings for
Baraka More at IMDbPro »

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A masterpiece filmed, edited and directed by geniuses

10/10
Author: Nikolai Montana (petlev@aol.com) from London, England
6 January 2004

What a spectacular production! This film is made purely for evolved human beings. I am shocked that this sensational movie has been rated only 7 stars. This is of course due to the fact that some people really have no idea what life is all about. I read a review stating that this movie has spectacular images without any meaning, or a story or characters. I must remind this person that this is not a documentary called "Around The World" and just because some people lack concentration and understanding doesn't mean the film was empty. Our lives are empty. There is a very unique story told to the whole of mankind, trying to awaken us from this robotic and sick society, reminding us where we came from (the stars) and reminding us what exactly we came here to do (evolve). The film is about spirituality, nothing else. There are no mistakes in it. Nothing has been missed. This is the only film humanity needs to watch, but because most of the population is blind to the truth, living pointless lives into an unconscious road of self demolition they see this "BLESSING" as a "Tour Around Planet Earth", wondering where those places are. Watch the film, as a whole don't separate everything into pieces. Unity is one of the hidden messages in this remarkable film. There is a very specific reason for missing out subtitles, because they would only drive you away from the point Baraka is trying to make. Buy this film, watch it (with your eyes and ears open), then buy the soundtrack for it and meditate. That is what this film is all about. It tries to bring you closer to meditation.

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The everything film

10/10
Author: Christopher Culver
2 January 2015

BARAKA is a 1993 film, shot by Ron Fricke in some 24 countries, that is a sort of documentary on three universal themes: 1) the grandeur of the natural world, from the peaks of Everest to low deserts, 2) the oneness of the human race illustrated by juxtaposing almost identical shots from vastly separated cultures, and 3) the desire for a connection with something transcendent. Shot in 70mm film, watching the Bluray on a projector or a large-screen television offers one of the most visually stunning cinematic experiences around. There is no dialogue or voice-over, no characters, but the enormous amount of footage is presented here in a way that gives BARAKA a gripping dramatic arc, and it's a sequence that, on repeated viewings, increasingly seems the most matter-of-course way in which all this could have been edited.

With unquenchable anthropological curiosity, Fricke identifies commonalities that link us all. A shot of a Japanese mafioso's tattoos, for example, are followed immediately by a shot of the same on an indigenous resident of Papua New Guinea. But's not only exotic tribalism. A shot of Japanese schoolgirls looking at the camera is mirrored later by an almost identical shot of low-caste girls in Calcutta. Don't expect a mushy call for tolerance; Fricke's editing indeed makes a convincing case for appreciating differences, but there is nuance.

Fricke's occasional use of footage from churches, mosques, temples, etc. is less an advocacy for belief in religion than an extension of the commonalities he identifies. Human beings have an urge for contemplation as solace among the complicated and sometimes senseless world around them, and they draw on inner sources of mercy to go against the cruelty that people show to their fellow man. The consequences of a world cut adrift from calm and compassion are shown during a heartbreaking sequence that ranges from Auschwitz and the Cambodian killing fields to homeless across the globe and teenage prostitutes in a Bangkok nightclub.

The footage is accompanied by an array of musical pieces which help to set the mood for each series of shots: minimalist loops form the soundtrack for scenes of industrial production, we hear harsh bagpipes as the camera tours the burning oil fields of Kuwait, and Dead Can Dance's "The Host of Seraphim" plays during an indictment of poverty worldwide. Some of musicians involved are rather New-Agey and would never have a place in my music listening, but when integrated into the film they are remarkably effective. The 5.1 surround sound excellently balances cinematic effect and faithfulness to the scenes portrayed.

I've watched BARAKA many times now, each time discovering many new things and always being moved, whether to pity (Calcutta garbage-pickers) or wonder (the unreal glittering hall of Shiraz's Shahcheragh mausoleum). I would certainly rank it among my favourite films. Will you like it? That's hard to say. BARAKA is my go-to Bluray when friends and family want to try out my fancy home theatre setup with HD projector and surround sound, and while some of them have been just as stunned as I am, others don't really care. Apparently many people, even those with a well-rounded education, don't have much curiosity for things outside their own everyday experience, and so Fricke's survey of world cultures doesn't resonate with them.

(Note that while Fricke created a 2011 follow-up called SAMSARA, I would recommend staying away from it, as it is less focused and only repeats BARAKA to diminishing effect.)

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I can't see how someone couldn't like this film.

9/10
Author: Jack Hawkins (Hawkensian) from England
3 September 2014

A bold statement certainly, however Baraka has an immense beauty that is surely universal in appeal. It is a documentary that's without narrative or narration, it captures a veritable plethora of imagery that reminds us that Earth is indeed a baraka, which is Arabic and Hebrew for 'blessing'.

Any attempt to derive meaning or identify connection becomes merely incidental as you're presented with the hypnotic scenery that Ron Fricke and his team have captured; it must have been difficult for them to cut their glorious footage down to 97 minutes. The film traverses verdant jungles, epic mountain ranges, sweeping temple complexes, arid deserts, imposing cityscapes and haunting landmarks of evil such as Auschwitz and the Cambodian S-21 prison. Its human subjects are of all colours and creeds, with much of the film focusing on those who are less fortunate and sometimes utterly destitute. It is a sensational and occasionally disturbing cross-section of the planet's landscapes, cultures and history.

The stunning wide shots and time lapses are scored with heady ambient music by Michael Stearns. His music is a cacophony of tribal chants, chimes and drums that's vital in creating Baraka's truly sensory immersion. My favourite piece is Baraka Theme, its broad, sonorous notes create a vast scope that perfectly accompanies the boundless panoramas.

There are so many moments I could talk about, I could throw effusive adjectives at almost every frame, however I feel mere words can't do it justice. Baraka is a purely cinematic experience that's somewhat futile to describe.

However, one memorable sequence I will mention is the factory processing of chicks that's interspersed with the frenetic pace of the Tokyo railway commuters; it is fascinating and ultimately quite unpleasant as the birds' destiny in battery cages is revealed after having their beaks burnt. The camera offers insights into an array of factories, showcasing their subjects' perfectly rehearsed skills in computer hardware assembly, textiles and poultry.

It is a film that demands to be shown on good equipment, a film that serves as a benchmark for one's TV or projector. Apparently, it was the first film to receive an 8K transfer, what an awesome experience that must be, most likely better than real life!

When Baraka sadly finishes, you eventually move your eyes away from the screen for the first time in 97 minutes and realise that you've been dead still the whole time as you check your watch, surprised to see that many hours haven't passed. It is a triumph that the moving image alone can achieve such engrossment.

86%

www.hawkensian.com

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This Eye Opening Wonder Is Ageing Surely And Slowly.

7/10
Author: George Roots (GeorgeRoots) from United Kingdom
11 August 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm not here to completely slander "Baraka". That would be a disservice to Ron Fricke's jaw dropping camera skills and directorial efforts. It's sad in a way, because I had just viewed his most recent outing "Samsara" (2012).

"Samsara" featured better pacing, much better music pieces, smoother transitions between cultures and even though it was the final in a trilogy it honesty felt like a "quasi-remake". On multiple viewings I have really tried, but I feel "Samsara" totally rectified all of Baraka's short comings and I understand how unfair it is compare a directors efforts, especially in-between a 9 year gap. Unfortunately, that's just the way I see it.

Saying all that, I still really want to view "Chronos" (1985) someday. "Baraka" has some gorgeous imagery throughout it's 1 hour 30 minute running time, but for 40 minutes of this picture I found myself really underwhelmed. As much as I love the premises of Mr. Fricke's work, and adore the camera shots being employed. I can only recommend "Baraka", if you have the patience to wait for the more provocative stuff in the 3rd act of the picture.

Final Verdict: My appreciation of the picture has gone up as time goes by, but "Baraka" is showing it's age. I can appreciate this was a way to see the world without mass exposure via holiday trips or the Internet. But I really think "Baraka" will age much sooner than later. 7/10.

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need more than words to explain the beauty of BARAKA

10/10
Author: Umang Shukla from India
15 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Baraka showed, how we were a part of nature and how we detached ourselves from it, to become a being, who are just using/abusing nature and where it have lead us to. Baraka explores the most beautiful and breathtaking landscapes one can ever imagine. Director Ron Fricke used a special time lapse camera that he invented for this film. He had used his imagination in the ways that will blow your mind. I loved this movie for the way The Earth was explored and how the small pieces were put together to show nature, landscapes, wildlife, culture, believes, society, industrialization, urbanization, war. Most amazing thing is the usage of time lapse camera, and i can watch those scenes again and again. This is a must watch for nature-lovers.

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No Words Need Be Spoken

10/10
Author: thewillt08 from United States
8 November 2013

How does a movie with no words or characters have such a huge impact? I still don't really know but Baraka had that impact on me. This movie came out in 1992 and shows life in many shows and forms. It is a strange but intriguing genre of film but it is amazing. Baraka means hope in English but what it actually means is up to the viewer. From the streets of New York, to tribes in Africa, to clouds floating above mountains, Baraka dives deep into the planet we live on and really made me think.

The shots in this movie, with the music intertwined, were beautiful. A New York Street is shown with the traffic moving like clockwork while drums are playing almost in sync with the traffic. The entire hour and a half movie is like this. This movie touches upon every religion and group of people we have on Earth. The audience sees the different people in the world but we also see how similar we are. Yes a typical American lifestyle is a lot different than the people in other countries that have tattoos and piercings all over their body, but seeing how we share similar problems is brilliant.

Throughout the movie we see the positive and negative aspects of our world, past and present. People are shown happy and sad but no matter what the culture there are shots of people staring right into the camera and into the depths of my soul. They break the cinema wall, in a regular movie actors never stare into the camera, but with Baraka regular people stare right into the camera and the emotional impact is huge. Children stare and you wonder what they are thinking about, are they happy or sad. Most stares are blank and innocent. It shows how innocent people really are and how we take those innocents away.

This movie really made me think about the word we live in and how people treat each other. People are so cruel to each other for no reason. People discriminate based on religion, why? This movie shows each religion I can think of and they basically follow the same principal. We as a species are so similar to each other but we treat one another like garbage. There are shots of Auschwitz and the Cambodian massacre. Human skills and bones still sitting there. These people were killed for no reason and as a viewer it's sad. I loved this movie. It made me think and want to change. I don't judge people but it made me want to make a greater effort to treat people better in general.

Nature of our world is also beautiful. There are shots of animals, specifically monkeys and it is adorable. There is a sequence very early on of a monkey hanging out in a hot bath and it just sits there. A raindrop slightly falls on his nose and it just stars at it as if it's annoyed. It is subtle things like this that I really loved. Nature is truly beautiful if you look at it the right way. Shots of nature were the ones I liked the best, especially waterfalls. I don't know why but I love waterfalls. I also loved the clouds running over mountains like a strong river current. It looked like somebody was stretching out a cotton ball for miles and miles.

Music makes the movie. If you don't believe me, then you're dumb for one. Watch this movie and tell me you didn't like the music in this movie. Philip Glass composed the music and after I saw this movie I immediately got the soundtrack. It's so beautiful and captivating. It captures each individual moment perfectly. Sometimes there are different cultures singing or chanting and sometimes it is natural sound from the world itself. It's repetitive and slow but effective.

Overall, Baraka is a masterpiece. I have never seen a film like this but I want to see more. This is a rare and beautiful genre that makes you think about the world we live in. A movie like this can't be too long and it can be a little boring at times but I watched this movie in the "proper" state of mind. I strongly suggest you watch this movie in the "proper" state of mind, you won't regret it. I will see this movie again and the upgraded blu ray made it ten times better. The picture quality was the best I have ever seen and the sound quality was right up there as well. Baraka gets the WillyT Seal of Approval and the mind blow of the week. Words are not enough to describe this movie enough and it's fitting because there is not one word of scripted dialogue in the film at all.

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A glimpse of a divine

8/10
Author: Ramrao Tayade from Nagpur, India
22 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I first saw this Ron Fricke's documentary way back in 2006 on TV. it did make a great impression about being something mysterious but I couldn't pay serious attention to it owing to other preoccupations. The film, however, had always remained at the back of mind. So when I saw it for second time recently – this time on a large screen - I was awestruck by the sheer magnitude of the film that made me restless till I wrote down that rewarding viewing experience.

When searched on the Internet, one gathers that the word 'Baraka' is a Sufi word - meaning blessing of God in the form of spiritual wisdom or the divine presence. And how truly and spell-bindingly this film brings out that essence even though not a single word is spoken throughout its entire length of 96 minutes!

Directed by cinematographer himself, the film was shot in 6 continents covering 24 countries including my own and neighboring Nepal. Baraka showcases unforgettable snapshots and moving images that transport us to glory & vastness of nature, natural wonders, serenity, spirituality, sacred sites, rituals, prayers, tribal life, city life, industrial sites and also the man-made disasters that threaten the mankind as well as earth's other creatures. These powerful images establish the links between humanity and nature…how our own life style reflects on the natural rhythm of the planet. As the film progresses, these images begin to creep onto our consciousness, rule our feelings and finally evoke compassion.

By dispensing with dialog or any visual text, this film gives altogether different dimension to documentary film making that defies the hitherto tradition.

Music composer, Michael Stearns's hypnotic and soul-stirring music is the real icing on the cake. It combines visuals with musical artistry...a magical blend of ancient…folk…traditional…global to modern music. His music definitely deserves large chunk of success this film has earned.

Not only the images are mesmerizing and a great visual feast for eyes but also the film is equally soul stirring experience that connoisseurs & film buffs can't afford to miss. Surely deserves 8 out of 10

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'The clear sky also gets the staff!'

6/10
Author: chaos-rampant from Greece
6 October 2013

This should have been tailor-made for a viewer like me. I'm enthralled by nature and places as much as the next guy. I think that science is profoundly inadequate and incomplete so long as it fails to take stock of our perceptual experience that makes us soulful beings. That more people should meditate and reclaim a direct perspective of life. That film can stand to be a lot less like theater, narrative-bound, and more like music, a certain air and vibration that flows.

Then I am confronted with something like this. It captures a myriad beautiful things, wonderful ecstatic dances, natural and manmade. It shows a striking craft on display. And yes it supports a spirituality that in theory I should celebrate, the creation of a cosmogonic blueprint where transcendent vision flies over things and brings patterns together for a soulful eye.

And yet it doesn't work, not for me, for the same reasons that Koyannisqatsi doesn't.

See what we call the transcendent world is not some mystical plane that we seep to with ritual or meditation and return from, it's this world. At the root of a transcendent vision is the Zen koan of koans, the question who is it that sees? And film is a great tool to create that space that will evoke the viewer for whom that space exists. (all films being constructed, the gamble is how to surprise and awaken the sleeping viewer)

Too many words. What do you see here ?

We fly from the Pyramids to the Angkor Vat to Persepolis in a matter of minutes. We fly from tribal dances to the urban dances of traffic to the devotional dance of pilgrims around Mecca. We cut from Japanese businessmen in their modern hotel capsules to stylized shots of a Buddhist monk in the street with his alms bowl.

It is all staged, nothing discovered or spontaneous, all monumentally arranged before an omniscient eye to bathe in splendor. Nature is never allowed to be itself, the trickle of time itself, it is always colossal and awe- inspiring. Nearly everything has been posed for. Nearly everything frozen before us or amplified or sped up lest we miss the pattern.

Each of these images could have been the ecstatic moment in a film of its own, with life building up to it. There is a truly astonishing sequence of rebirth near the end, with a solar eclipse and an African dancer bouncing up as if a soul is leaving to return. But all of it together has the adverse effect. Yes the film evokes feelings of empathy, awe, and connectedness but always ties them to monumental depictions, away from us. For this filmmaker, it takes nothing short of the Taj Mahal at sunset to comprehend the world's beauty, and nothing short of the Kuwait oil fields ablaze to comprehend the destruction.

So we see the mundanity of the sacred and spiritual and not the opposite, how watering your plants can be a spiritual thing. It doesn't remind how these things are near us, it postpones them, places them at a distance. If you think that going to Bodh Gaya to meditate under the bodhi tree will grant you special insight, that it'll take nothing short of a sacred place, this is for you. Either way, maybe you'll appreciate the following verse:

A monk asked, "When there's not a single cloud for ten thousand miles, then what?"

Zen Master Baoshou said, "The clear sky also gets the staff!"

The monk said, "I don't understand why the clear sky has an error."

Baoshou hit him with his staff.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Baraka, a qatsi sequel?

Author: kfpolchies from United States
1 August 2011

I can understand the need to compare Baraka to the qatsi trilogy but honestly I can't agree that a comparison is in order. The two movies have different purposes. Baraka, to me, seems to take you on a journey through humanity and how each of our actions are connected to another; whether or not we want to believe they are, our choices do influence seemingly non-connected events. This movie gives a vivid view on how inter-twined the entire world is. The qatsi trilogy is different in the fact that it tries to show the errors in human interaction and how our poor choices have ruined lives of others, almost to the point of being pious. Any of the 4 movies are definitely worth watching but none of them should be compared. Its much like comparing apples to oranges. Both are fruit, but both serve different nutritional purposes, one for vitamins to enhance your performance (baraka = oranges) and one for fiber to fill you with substance (qatsi trilogy = apples).

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Baraka as Decadent film

10/10
Author: jean-gove from Malta
17 March 2009

Baraka is a wordless documentary, but not without a message.

It does have a logic to it, and despite its sheer beauty (after all even the burning oil-wells of Kuwait can be beautiful), it ultimately seems to me to be misanthropic to the core. Primarily it contrasts and parallels an old world and a new world, and shows how they are linked, how they are ultimately the same, how we in the new world, who think we're so different and superior, are actually not different at all. It says: humankind is a writhing mass of superstitious and miserable minds doomed to repetition, inflicting and suffering pain, and impassiveness, whether they're swaying at the Wall, going round the Kaba, shaking the incense, producing food, consuming food, working on a factory, going to work, etc... but it all can be composed together in a work of art and beauty.

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