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I just saw a screening of Samsara at the TIFF, at the brilliant TIFF
A film that took 5 years to make and co-ordinate. Shot in Panarama 70mm, across 26 countries, needing major government and regulatory clearances, having to wait for certain seasons or lunar phases to get the light to hit the way director Fricke wanted...carefully strung together with a massive 7.1 surround sound design and music score from Michael Stearns, Marcello de Francisci, and Lisa Gerrard (of Dead Can Dance).
The 70mm negative has been digitally scanned and oversampled at 8k resolution (much like the 'Baraka' Blu-ray); the TIFF Lightbox theatre installed a brand new Christie 4k projector (Christie Projection Systems rushed the projector before its release to the market specifically for this event) making it the first true 4k screening of it's kind.
From sweeping landscapes to time-lapse sequences of the night sky and from exclusive looks into the processing of food to the consumption and effects it has on the human body, Samsara is nothing short of astounding. Modern technology, production lines, and human robotics are juxtaposed against a backdrop of deserts, garbage mounds as far as the eye can see, and traffic congestion in modern centres. The time-lapse footage is simply transcendent. In fact, I caught myself questioning the reality of some of the landscape vistas and night skyline montages...they looked so hyper-real that I thought they must have come from a CG lab somewhere. Simply astonishing. The richness, depth and clarity of colour and image achieved within the processes utilized gives birth to the most beautiful visual meditation that I have ever witnessed.
As one film journalist noted, "That Samsara is instantly one of the most visually-stunning films in the history of cinema is reason enough to cherish it, but Fricke and co-editor Mark Magidson achieve truly profound juxtapositions, brimming with meaning and emotion. It sounds preposterous, but it's true: In 99 minutes, Samsara achieves something approaching a comprehensive portrait of the totality of human experience. If you're even remotely fond of being alive, Samsara is not to be missed."
If you ever come across the chance to see this film in a decent theatre, run, and let your eyeballs (and earholes) feast upon its brilliance.
I have found reviewing this film in detail to be futile. Instead, I
will offer my own thoughts.
Whereas 1992's "Baraka" contemplates on humanity in a dream/god-like manner, Ron Fricke's "Samsara" is more intense and solemn in its tone. From the birth of civilization, mankind has used its gift for intelligence for nothing but progress, and now, today, we have either reached or gone over the tipping point. There is no where but down this time. Humans work mechanically in a clockwork fashion, consume everything in their path, and leave the excesses behind for others to scavenge. Eventually, all will collapse, leaving nothing behind and returning the state of civilization back to ground zero. And the wheel turns on. Is this what "Samsara", Frick and co-editor Mark Magidson is trying to say? Or did you experience a completely different interpretation? It is up to you to decide.
I will not ponder upon the technical details. The cinematography and editing is flawless; the music and music arrangement - simply mesmerizing. A work of art, like life itself, on this planet, in our cities and homes, in the desolate plains and mountains; they are shown in all its beauty, splendour and spectacle. Our planet is truly beautiful.
I will end my review with this note - you owe no one but yourself to see this film. Every man, woman and child should see this - regardless of their personal preference of culture and entertainment. This film is a message to all of us. A warning.
Overall rating: 100%
My boyfriend and I went to see this at the Cinerama in Seattle. For
those wanting to see this movie, I highly recommend seeing it in a
theater, if possible. It's one that needs to be watched on a big screen
with a great sound system to add to the amazing visual and auditory
impact. It was also thought provoking and gave us plenty to think about
and discuss afterward.
Visually, this movie is one of the best I've ever seen. The time lapse photography as well as the vivid colors and detail... I don't even know how to describe it, as it was like nothing I've ever seen before.
This film screams loudly, despite the fact that not a single word is spoken. It's a journey around the world, showing the immense beauty and the grotesque horrors of humanity, interspersed with stunning natural landscapes and the fallout of natural disaster. Nothing is held back from us and, rather than make a specific point, each viewer is able to take from the film what speaks to them. The filmmakers were able to show some incredible juxtapositions and contradictions, calling into question much of what we take for granted and don't bother to contemplate. On more than one occasion, I was moved to tears, either by the sheer beauty of the scene or out of pure disgust.
The score was so perfectly matched to the scenery that, in some places, it was impossible to believe that the music was not present when the scenes were filmed.
This is definitely a must see and I sincerely hope that we'll be treated to another installment from the filmmaker.
Samsara is a depressingly accurate account of shallow human
materialism, the widespread ungratefulness of our culture, and the
incredible arrogance we continue to proudly possess. It features images
too powerful to be computer generated and humanity too sincere to be
fiction. Even though not a word is spoken, the film's images pack well
over a thousand words, making Samsara, hypothetically, the longest work
of poetry ever written.
The film chronicles the living conditions, the activities, and the day-to-day routines of many different people across twenty-five different countries. We never do get a true answer where we are at, which works as a method by the filmmakers, I assume, to prevent assumptions and judgments on the places and the people. We are shown many things in these evocative, unforgettable one-hundred minutes, and more depth and enigma than many will experience in their lifetime.
Shots are presented in crystal clear 70mm (if you're lucky enough to find a theater with the proper projector, but regular theater projectors should work efficiently enough), and we get a beautiful look at life in the slums, life in mansions placed delicately on the coastlines, and living conditions in countries such as Ethiopia and the United States. We see early religious rituals carried out, such as Tibetan monks engaged in their prayers or youthful baptisms, as well as contrasting lifestyles that involve dance mobs, suffering, and habitat destruction.
Director Ron Ficke's imagery and global cinematography is gripping and astounding, with long shots centered on characters, groups of people, or sometimes, aerial shots that feature a wide coverage of the surrounding land. My favorites are easily the time lapse sequences, sped up to breakneck speeds, sometimes showing haunting images of uncertainty or simply the fast paced nature of our world.
There are two sequences in particular that are the most haunting, and describing them will be no easy task. One involves a man sitting behind a desk, who begins to smear modeling clay on his face, before grabbing a tiny paint brush and stroking black and red paint all over himself as well. He begins to vigorously do both things at once, ripping clay off his face only to smear it back on, throw dust in his eyes, stick pencils in his face, etc. The long-shot becomes faster and faster, while jolting music plays in the background. The scene alone is more horrifying and surreal than anything I've seen in 2012, with the exception of Battle Royale.
The other lasts about five or six minutes, involving a barn full of chickens helplessly being sucked into a large, ominous tractor that will kill them and prepare them for tomorrow's meal. From birth to death, they live their entire life in fear and darkness, barely being able to move due to their heavy breasts and increasing plumpness. We too get a look at pot belly pigs, also too heavy to move, as they lay still and allow their piglets to drink milk from their nipples. We then see those same baby pigs hanging from a long line in the air at a condensed factory, being prepared into the bacon you will eat tomorrow for breakfast.
These images are nonetheless painful, but it all resorts back to what I called Samsara in the first paragraph - depressingly accurate, more haunting than fiction, and silently nudging us when we're left agape, saying, "hey, we're to thank for this." And we are. One of the final shots involves a beautiful mural of tiny colored specs being swept away in seconds by men brushing the table it is on. We are stunned that such a beautiful thing would be carelessly wiped away, but it all returns back to the idea that we were too given a beautiful slice of life and the world and we took it for granted and nearly destroyed it. We weren't able to take a second look.
Fricke paints Samsara, which is Sanskrit for "the ever turning wheel of life," as a film that sometimes can laud human activity and then turn around and condemn it. It is predominately a loose picture, that wants you to search for meaning in its images, but unlike Jean-Luc Godard's Film Socialisme, a horrible exercise in a similar field, we can see the images represent something and there's enough ambiguity that we are able to extract many different messages from the source material and are able to provide sufficient evidence to back up our claims. To put it simply, this is one of the best, most intellectually stimulating films of the last ten years.
Directed by: Ron Fricke.
Baraka was a film that left me dazzled and mesmerized. Walking into
Samsara, I was nervous that my expectations were simply too high, and
that the film would too closely mimic its sibling.
I can confidently say that by the end of Samsara, I once again experienced the flick of a light switch in my mind. Everything I am was completely put into perspective. As a result, I can promise that Samsara will leave you both awestruck and completely terrified.
Samsara struck a very personal chord with me. Much of what is shown exists because of people like me. The film is an unfiltered walk through the things that I try my best to ignore in daily life. I'm not sure how to reconcile the imagery of Samsara with how I live my life. I'm also not sure that I want to. It would mean giving up the vast majority of my creature comforts, even though I know those comforts come at the expense of other people, animals and the planet.
The fact the film allows me to think about these things, in a way that I normally wouldn't, means that it worked. 4/4.
I came across the trailer for Samsara having never heard anything about
it before, or the filmmakers involved, but the trailer alone made me
want to check it out. I got to see it in IMAX and I'm glad I did as, as
everyone else has said, visually it is stunning, so the bigger the
screen you can see it on the better.
I have never seen Fricke's previous work such as Baraka so I had no idea what to truly expect when I sat down before it started. I see people have mentioned they got bored after 30 minutes due to the lack of dialog/narration and that overall it's too long but I couldn't disagree more. From the first scene to last, I was totally engrossed in the visual and audio experience. The juxtaposition of concepts and themes worked, I got to see places and activities I didn't know about in a way I have never seen before. The soundtrack is spot on, capturing and switching the moods perfectly. It moves you.
I see critics have said that the message of Samsara isn't clear but I don't think it needs a message. Seeing Samsara has enhanced my understanding, and appreciation for, the way our world is and works, and what really matters most to us. How many times can you go to the cinema and come out a more knowledgeable person?
Samsara is quite simply a work of art and, like all great art, you interpret it in your own individual way and it makes you think. Do yourself a favor and experience it.
This film has tremendous power, not just from camera technique, but
from the simple device of a human face steadily gazing at you. Time and
time again humanity intrudes its collective face on you as life plays
out across the Earth. Acceleration contrasts with contemplation; Earth
rhythms overshadow human activity; no one seems to notice.
Samsara is beautiful, bizarre, and unforgettable. As the film progressed, my convictions as to what is 'for real' began to weaken. We may really be stuck in the same dream state. And always someone 'sees' back at you. Or is Samsara 'only a movie'?
This is not to say there is one correct way to experience or interpret Samara. Your reaction will reflect you only. At times uncomfortable, viewing Samsara is an experience worth having.
S A M S A R A (my little review)
Ron Fricke, creator of the films Chaos and Baraka creates a tour de sympathy with his third, evocative, deeply stirring, film Samsara, a movie that points directly at personal responsibility, empowerment, and the price of thoughtless consumption, attachment, creation of ideologies to supplant a close relationship with life, but also a sort of raging against the dying of the light... and those who pay the price in society... the spirit of man, the animals we share this planet with, women, children and nature itself...
First off I would recommend this movie, this beautiful movie shot in 70mm full of color and feeling, that traverses the globe, and one's own heart. The film makes a Tibetan sand mandala of us all, blossoms a petal of truth within, then wipes away the dross...
I believe there is not only a definite thread to follow, but it's rather like seeing a natural singularity becoming split into the myriad activities of all humanity, the occurring entanglements, and then how it comes back together into the singularity within the heart, the seat of the soul. We always have a choice to diverge or to return to the inlet of our spiritual sea, the remembrance of our natural state as humanity... I believe the movie gets this across in such a beautiful and simple way that it's life changing. I don't think everyone will get it in the moment, I believe a seed will be planted in some, watered in others, and blossom in others, but for each where they stand, the movie will meet you where you are if you are open to its message.
Go see this movie.
For the first 10 minutes I thought it was a mistake to have bought the
It was first time for me to see a documentary film without any commentary.
The images were so beautiful and interesting, but I expected that I would get bored in a few minutes.
And in fact, I did.
but after a while, somehow I gradually got absorbed in the movie again.
Keeping watching gorgeous images leads me to a kind of meditation.
and in the end, I ended up getting impressed.
You can experience something different from ordinary documentary.
It is definitely a movie for theater, not for a small home television. If you get interested in this movie, you should go see it in a theatre.
Just watched the Sky Screening at Greenwich-O2. Thank you Sky for the
Amazing movie with great visuals (mind it... no added CG). The time lapse sequences were simply amazing. Can totally believe that it took 5 years to complete the picturization. Every second spent on creating this visual symphony is worth it. Real impressed with the production team's reach. They even managed to capture amazing sequences from within a jail in China.
Now I need to find a way of watching this team's 1992 movie 'Baraka'. I sincerely hope that it is commercially successful so that, we can see more from this amazing team.
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