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
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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
The director Godfrey Reggio must be a very charming and persuasive man for this dreadfully botched project to have seen the light of day. Reggio's message, so powerful and resonant in his previous two Qatsi films, is hopelessly jumbled here. Athletes, equations, oceans, keypads, laughing heads, etc, mingle without purpose. The parade of banal imagery is mostly generic stock from Getty Images et al, and the heavy-handed digital manipulations are amateurish in the worst way imaginable. Surely someone involved (Steven Soderbergh, executive producer?) could have pointed out that applying a solarizing filter to nearly every frame was a VERY BAD idea? The crude looping, layering, and distorting of images recalls a freshman Photoshop class. And to make matters worse, the computer animation sequences are more artless than a 1980's Wall Street pie-chart. This is not to say that improved aesthetics alone would have salvaged this film, but some meager effort in this direction may have made it tolerable as visual fodder for the accompanying music. I feel compelled to point out that the score by Philip Glass will certainly satisfy his fans. Not a radical departure, but rather a refinement of what Glass does best with lovely violin contributions by Yo Yo Ma. If you decide to see this film be certain to focus your attention on the brief opening sequence. While you may already be familiar with Detroit's once majestic but long abandoned Michigan Central Railroad Station 89 minutes later you will find yourself remembering this image of 20th century decay as the critical point when you should have headed for the EXIT sign/hit the STOP button, etc. You've been warned.
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