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Filmed over nearly five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, and shot on seventy-millimetre film, Samsara transports us to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders.
Balinese Tari Legong Dancers,
Ni Made Megahadi Pratiwi,
Puti Sri Candra Dewi
In this cinematic concert, mesmerizing images are plucked from everyday reality, then visually altered with state-of-the-art digital techniques. The result is a chronicle of the shift from a world organized by the principles of nature to one dominated by technology, the synthetic and the virtual. Extremes of intimacy and spectacle, tragedy and hope fuse in a tidal wave of visuals and music, giving rise to a unique, artistic experience that reflects the vision of a brave new globalized world. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
This is a failure so complete as to make me angry.
All of the subtlety and structure of Reggio's early films is gone, leaving nothing but a hash of digitally smeared images whose sole purpose seems to be Whining About Bad Things Humans Do. Just how do Star Trek-like wormhole graphics, slo-mo colorized seascapes, mutiplicities of obviously fake computer icons, and shots of athletic competition that, incidentally, show that no one has ever been able to top (or even match) Leni Riefenstahl for filming bodies in motion, edited together with an overlay of video colorization that a 1980s "Dr. Who" producer would have rejected as "too cheesy," add up to a polemic against "civilized violence"? There is no intellectual, emotional, or visceral connection between these images as assembled and mutated by Reggio and way too many digital effects artistes, and the cautionary tale I assume he wanted to produce. With all of the "dramaturgical consultants" involved, no one seems to have pulled his head out the his own feeling of Saying Something Important and considered that they might all be failing to say something new.
Only people who watch too much television could make such a film and believe that it's meaningful; this is kindergarten Stan Brakhage, and ultimately gutless in its relentless obviousness. The only irony and tension evident here (unlike in "Koyaanisqatsi" where the relentless beauty and strangeness of time-altered ordinary images forced you to consider their meaning) was when the DVD I was watching jammed and skipped. This is MTV for the Noam Chomsky crowd, based on reflex rather than reflection and signifying nothing. Two stars for the music, which is in Glass's best pomo-Cesar Franck style and features some passionate cello from Yo-Yo Ma. (I hope for his sake that he didn't have to record his parts to a playback of the film; there are some things you shouldn't have to do even for a paycheck.)
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