Samsara (2011) Poster

(I) (2011)

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The greatest visual experience that my eyeballs have ever witnessed.
rosielarose19 September 2011
I just saw a screening of Samsara at the TIFF, at the brilliant TIFF Lightbox theatre.


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.
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It took years to perfect and an instant to ruin
Steve Pulaski16 September 2012
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.
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Absolutely incredible
Elizabeth Mironova2 September 2012
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.
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A warning
dvc51597 September 2012
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%
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A powerful companion to Baraka, and compellingly different.
sgtiger10 September 2012
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.
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A cinematic experience that you should give yourself
p_jones9219 September 2012
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.
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A Film That Gazes At You
jerry-worley7614 September 2012
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.
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Go See This Movie
jmbwithcats23 September 2012
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.
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akasaka329 October 2012
For the first 10 minutes I thought it was a mistake to have bought the ticket.

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.
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Top Class.
ramesh13 August 2012
Just watched the Sky Screening at Greenwich-O2. Thank you Sky for the ticket.

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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Brilliant, but difficult to explain why
grantss15 March 2014
Brilliant, but difficult to explain why. No plot, no acting (well, except for one scene, but I'll come to that). So, it's a documentary then? Yes, sort of, but there is no narration, nor captions, nor even tags to let you know what or where in the world you are looking at.

In essence, it's a visual documentary on the modern world. Initially it just seems like National Geographic without any commentary: beautiful scenes of temples, nature and places you might want to go as a tourist. However, 100 minutes of random places and things could be boring after a while. Just when you start to think that might well be the case, themes start to emerge: nature, buildings, opulence vs poverty, guns/military, livestock. Pretty much everyday things, and how they are connected.

It is basically a 100-minute stream-of-consciousness exercise, using amazing, totally natural visual imagery (ie no CGI). Enjoy it for where it takes your mind, or just for the images and the drama of everyday life.

Only negative note is the one scene that isn't candid: a performance artist. Very pretentious and pointless and prevents this movie from being perfect.
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Travel Porn...for Dummies
paratize-512-75748211 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This film was a disappointment for me, especially considering how much I loved Baraka (the director's other film which is very similar). I could go into many details about what I disliked about it, but the main points are these:

1. It's not nearly as groundbreaking as you might think. Why? Well, first of all, although the cinematography and scenery is indeed stunning at times, technically speaking, it's no step up from Baraka which was made twenty years prior to this. They were both shot on 65MM (released in 70MM) film. Essentially, nothing has changed in Fricke's filmmaking techniques. He repeats many of the same or similar types of shots from Baraka. We get the people staring into the camera who must feel awkward and are usually not smiling. (How is this better than just a photograph, by the way?) We also see more time-lapse photography of cities and factories and lots of people moving about; again, this is nothing new.

2. There are too many stereotypical travel sites/sights and clichés. If you like travelling at all and have read or seen any travel magazines, or even if you've been watching a lot of films and documentaries for a while, then you should already be quite familiar with many of the places and images shown in this film. The opening shots in Burma, while admittedly amazing, are not much better than what has been seen in Lonely Planet guides and National Geographic magazines. I could say the same for typical scenes of African tribes and even the poverty (again, stereotypes of Africa - they must be all poor or savages, right?). Then we have the Hajj in Saudi Arabia which has been seen numerous times in other places. Same goes for the geishas and Torii gates in Japan (plus freaky robots and sex dolls - Japan is always either high tech and freaky or traditional and quaint), and the ladyboys of Thailand. And lets not forget the scenes in famous American National Parks which have been done to death already. There is virtually nothing original or different here. About the only thing that stood out to me was the incongruous performance art scene which felt out of place and designed to shock more than anything else.

3. The most important reason why this film fails in my opinion is that while it seems to have some kind of agenda, it can't really make up its mind what it is. Whatever message we are meant to take away from it isn't clear. There is no real discernible structure to the whole work, which is essential to have without any kind of narration or dialogue. At first it seems to be a Buddhist film (and the title certainly implies that), but then why all the scenes of churches and Muslims? Doesn't really fit to my mind. And there seems to be more pessimism here than in Baraka; Samsara is more in line with the earlier Qatsi trilogy that Fricke was also involved with. But then you see great scenes of beauty. I suppose you could argue that Fricke is just trying to show life in its entirety - that there is suffering as well as beauty in this world. In that case, you might say that he is successful. But it has been done better before by other filmmakers and even by Fricke, in my opinion. This is a largely redundant and superficial project. It seems to want to be deep, but it really only skims the surface.

Lastly, although I sound pretty harsh in my assessment, I do want to note that this is a film to see on the largest and best screen possible. If you only care about pretty images (along with a few ugly ones), then you may get more out of this than I did. But I'd still say you'd be better off seeing Baraka again or for the first time.
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Like flicking through a Technicolor encyclopaedia
Dharmendra Singh26 September 2012
This is one of the strangest films I have ever seen. I'm not sure it even qualifies as a film in the traditional sense. Could it be classed as one of the very few silent colour films? Whatever it is, I was impressed. It's like flicking through a Technicolor encyclopaedia.

Developing themes from his earlier 'Baraka', Ron Fricke's documentary uses 70mm film to show mostly a series of still images, with some motion shots. Entirely wordless, except for an Enya-esque soundtrack, 'Samsara' (Sanskrit for 'cycle of worldly existence') is more accessible than Terrence Malick's 'The Tree of Life', which it resembles pictorially and, to a lesser extent, conceptually.

Wikipedia describes this film as having no narrative. I think that's wrong. The heterogeneous images of various cultures and vistas, culled over five years from 25 countries, from America to China, Israel to Indonesia, aren't random. They link to form a point: that the world is wonderful, horrible, spectacular, confusing and beautiful – and will be ad infinitum.

The first half contains scenes of the natural world, while the second half deals (with more than a hint of a religious bent) with man and all that he does to undo nature. I was struck particularly by the 'consumption' sequences, showing the mass-slaughtering of animals followed by shots of people happily devouring them as junk food.

At 102 minutes this is Fricke's longest feature, and I did feel it was overlong. No impact would have been lost if this was as short as his other films. The frequent use of time-lapse photography was a noticeable distraction, for no other reason than the images remained more or less constant throughout the jumps.

The way people and landmarks are filmed is interesting. The camera gazes at subjects, and captures landmarks at uncommon angles. It's as if we're discovering these spectacles for the first time. I'm sure I haven't quite conveyed my point, but if you see this visual feast, you'll see what I'm trying to say.
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Its message comes across as confused, but its beautiful visuals make it a film worth seeing.
I B29 October 2012
Samsara (Tibetan word meaning "the wheel of life") was an attempt to capture the images of today's so-called globalized word, which by the way is fading away. Yes, after 20 years of seemingly unstoppable globalization, or should I say Westernization, this economic and cultural process is coming to an end. But this is another matter. The question is does the film succeed in making sense of what's going on? No, it does not. If compared with the best works of its genre like Man With A Movie Camera (1929) and Koyaanisqatsi (1982) Samsara lacks intellect and purpose. Still, I can't deny that the 65mm stock images captured by director Ron Fricke are mostly impressive. Most of the film is beautifully shot and accompanied by a suitable score by Michael Stearns. It's certainly an absorbing motion picture. However, I'm not an admirer of Fricke's work because of his choice of locations. Why, for example, devote so much time filming in Asia and Africa? There are other interesting places in the world, like Russia and even the United States. And why does the film have to have these somber messages about globalization and nature? One can easily find a lot of beauty in the world too. And even in the Americas not everything is about guns and slums. One can easily find a lot of beauty there. For example, Koyaanisqatsi wasn't all about nature contrasted with industry. It also featured beautiful city scenery, and its message came across much better. Still, Samsara is a fine work. It features some remarkable images, including Muslims visiting the holy city of Mecca. It's not a classic but it's worth recommending.
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There were many images and videos, but little cohesion.
suite9210 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Human subjects are urged to look at the camera and not speak and not smile.

Taped subjects such as landscapes are sometimes shown at altered speeds.

Cool images: pharaoh's head; castle on a peak; Tibetan images; active sand dunes; high ceilings and stained glass in cathedrals; orange dunes in stark light; dead tree stumps against the rotation of the stars in the night skies; aerial videos of cities at night.

Uncool images: ugly old statues with massive time lapse; unused buildings filling up with sand; ruined, abandoned strip malls, stores, school rooms; automobiles and small houses interacting unnaturally; man covering his head with clay since it looks like a cheap, gimmicky horror film; chicken, bovine, pork processing; plastic surgery pre-processing; humans doing garbage recycling by hand for a living.

Indifferent images: oh, so many, such as the indoor skiing.

After watching the whole film twice, I'd say that all the images became indifferent. This is just concatenation in void context; all significance has been driven down to zero by the silent treatment.

If you've got a story to tell, tell it. Use language and planning.

After watching the film the first time, I read well over 50 reviews of it. In almost all cases, the review consisted of interpretations from experiences and axes to grind from outside the film. Frankly, it looked like stretching in every case. Watching the film again reinforced this opinion. Documentary films, by and large, have issues to raise and things to say about those issues. This film has images to present, but no point of view. The reviewers I read loaded in their own POV, whereas I'd say this film is just "I've collected a number of high quality images."
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Old fashioned propaganda movie
Jorge DVNO31 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
There is no doubt Samsara is visually breathtaking. But it is not only about nice "pictures" or the good and bad face of humanity. The logic of this movie follows the rules of the classic fascist aesthetics. It is about greatness in every level, a totally megalomaniac scale on what Mr. Ron Fricke thinks about the world. Come on, who the hell believes that the US is only about buying, eating and guns? who thinks that in certain communities there are no bad things, like the scenes in Nepal or with the Maasai people. Only the innocence of the children and the sacred art. South-America is about the favelas and trash collectors? It is a tradition in Europe(US as well) that people are looking for untouched lands and holiness in the Far-East, but come on, it is obviously a lie. Without a "script" it works only as a photo collage, not more.

I cannot believe that Fricke sees the world in that simple way. Our information about the world is more layered and more complex, than guns and McDonalds are bad and Buddhism is good. How they connect the scenes is also a bit clumsy. After the industry of weapons we can see a dead man, who is buried in a gun shaped coffin. So the message of the movie is equally deep like a summer blockbuster and they even doesn't let you think about it, they make it so obvious for you, that you only have to accept their ideas. That is why I say that this is an old fashioned propaganda movie. Luckily it doesn't serve any ideology, but it could have been an amazing experience...what a pity!
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sr-reshiru10 January 2013
I did watch the whole movie. The filmmakers tried to create a spiritual documentary without any understanding of foreign cultures and traditions.

The result is a pathetic and very shallow bunch of scenes. It's like posting random images with 'deep' quotes on Facebook.

The movie is heavily targeted on average uneducated narrow-minded people. That's too bad many people will get some scenes totally wrong because they just do not know the story of a certain place/people and just see a picture presented with a certain "message". Sad truth is - it seems that the director also got those scenes wrong. I say go watch some real documentaries, read books and travel.
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Mouth-Wateringly Beautiful, Samsara is a Real Workout For Any Home Entertainment System
Sean Lamberger11 April 2013
Dialog-free vistas and stunning panoramas from the makers of the equally-minimal HD heavyweight Baraka. It's a visual revelation - a shifting, stirring, breathing case study for motion photography - and the kind of cinema that Blu-Ray was born for. As the direct successor to the aforementioned Baraka, though, direct comparisons are both inevitable and often unfair. In some lights, it does manage to surpass its predecessor, particularly in its series of jaw-dropping long exposure landscapes. That's a surface that was merely scratched before, and Samsara's renditions are a jolting evolution of the format. In the cases of musical accompaniment, deeper meanings and sheer variety of subject, though, it falls a few steps short of the bar. This kind of picture isn't for everybody (in fact, it put my family to sleep) and if this is your first rodeo you'd be far better served with Baraka or Koyaanisqatsi, but seasoned fans should welcome the new material... even if it's not *quite* as grand as previous entries.
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Visual imagery to great perfection and detail.
braddugg6 January 2013
Visual imagery to great perfection and detail. The whole experience is spirit lifting.

There is no dialog, no story, no characters and nothing is indeed defined. It's a collaboration of images and great images I must say. Wow, it's one of the best blue-ray's to be released in recent times. The perfection in each frame and the details captured beautifully make this one a great compilation of visuals. But, I doubt if anyone would undertake an ordeal of near 100 minutes with emptiness so to say, there is no word spoken and we have is fragmented images of scenes ranging from Buddhist monasteries to the skyscrapers to so many elements of nature, be it a volcano or a forest.

So, it's a kind of complete focus on what we see and completely devoid of any dialog but music plays a pivotal role in helping us a great deal. If we close our eyes and listening it's like listening to trance music that varies from slow serene music of Chinese to the chaos of the traffic, everything is amalgamated and shown how is our world "SAMSARA".

The interesting aspect that drove me to this is the title SAMSARA itself. It is derived from Sanskrit word SAMSARA meaning, the Universe. And after tying up myself to the chair to have a juice as company and to see this 100 minute visual poem was indeed an overwhelming and great experience. It reminded me of "The Man With the Movie Camera" that is another film of 1929 based on images purely.

Now, since this is great visual imagery, I will give 5/5 for cinematography and there it goes, because there is nothing but cinematography here. But since it's not everyone's cup of tea, because it's completely devoid of any movie genre, I will make it a 4/5. It worked for my eyes and try it with huge amount of time and patience and it may work for you too.

So a 4/5 for this. This film is not for all though.
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Samsara (Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson, 2011)
Perception_de_Ambiguity20 September 2012
Shot in glorious Panavision Super 70 (65mm) 'Samsara' is another one of those wordless pretty-picture films that works in various modes that as an overarching theme basically has the impermanence of everything. The tranquil start juxtaposes human achievement (culture, art,...) with a tumultuous nature (volcanoes, erosion,...) provoking the question of how we can exist let alone be creative in a world that doesn't give a sh!t. This section at some point becomes about the interaction between human art and what you may want to call natural art with images of ancient constructions being transformed by nature over time which has a beauty all of its own.

Then things get more lively (including the music, of course) as the film goes into "Mondo Cane" mode with cultural weirdness from all over the world like a corpse getting carried over a cemetery and buried in a coffin in the shape of a gun. Other coffins on display have the shape of fish and airplanes. The film visits various slaughterhouses (pigs, chickens and cows all get the automatized Ax) which leads straight to humanoid robots and to sex dolls whose faces are juxtaposed with those of dancing ladyboys in a Taiwanese club with interconnecting footage of plastic surgeries.

The third mode is that of crowds and how they act in union like tens of thousands of people praying in Mekka, running around that stone, kneeling, standing up, etc. There are the dazzling lights of a metropolis from the bird's-eye view and thousands of prisoners dancing in formation to a sweat-inducing dance beat. In the end 'Samsara' comes back to the images of the beginning with monks who painstakingly created a picture made of sand looking at the picture for a few seconds and then wiping it off the floor again and collecting the now multicolored sand in a bowl. The last image is that of dunes shaped by wind, the fate of everything on this planet.

No matter if 'Samsara' uses a stationary camera, a steady camera or helicopter shots; no matter if it focuses on details, on individuals or on crowds; no matter if it uses high-speed photography, time-lapse photography or plain normal speed; it is always great-looking due to the high resolution and most notably due to the staggering ever-present smoothness of motion that gives a true impression of not just a floating camera but maybe even of a floating world without ever having to leave the Earth's atmosphere.
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Mind Blowing!..
candim197028 September 2012
My BFF and myself went to see this tonight, the last night it was playing... This was the most Intense, Mind Blowing, Movie I have ever seen. The experience was just amazing.... My tears rolled down immediately from the beginning until the very end... the chicken, cows and pigs really hit me, hurt a lot, I am a Vegan and I had to look away thru this, it was very painful... I learned soooooo much from these two hours and can honestly tell you that this Documentary, did change something within me and I continue to seek the Love, Compassion for all of Life, and Loving Beings with the hearts to touch. We are one, we are all, we are Love....

Thank You so VERY much for this Amazing Love!..
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The visual quantity of our planet is stupendous!
Tim Johnson2 February 2013
Diane and I viewed this marvellous movie yesterday at the Luna on Essex in Fremantle. We had seen previews and knew what to expect but even then we were both mesmerized by the avalanche of extraordinary visuals that we saw. There was no dialogue; there was not plot; there were no silly Hollywood shootings or deaths; there were no massive car chases; there was no talking or silent humanoid animals making dumb wisecracking asides trying against all odds to be funny. No it was a visual display of what it means to be human and that is all the beauty that was required.

The sheer technical aspects of making a film of this kind are quite staggering because of the amount of travel necessary to complete the project let alone considering the amount of research needed just to find the locations as well as selecting the shots and editing editing the monumental amount of visuals obtained.

Viewers must be particularly judicious regarding their personal standards because some of those visuals are hard to digest (no pun intended.) The breadth of travel over the planet or at least the breadth of shot-selection will impress any viewer I am sure. If you are a humanist you owe it to yourself to attend a viewing; if you are a Christian (trust me they are different animals) then there is much that will upset you in this documentary/film.
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The "point"? Life may not be futile but its purpose remains elusive.
upquist9 December 2012
Much has been said about the breathtaking photography, spiritual overtones and mind-opening vistas offered by this truly majestic presentation. As other commentators have mentioned, to do it justice, Samsara really must be seen in an appropriate theater with high- definition projection and suitable sound equipment.

I've just come back from the Bell TIFF complex (which provides all of the foregoing amenities and superbly comfortable seats as a bonus) where, with two friends, I saw the film immediately after which, while walking home together, we all speculated as to its 'point'. Many here have expressed their views some of which are interesting, insightful and even captivating. What follows is my take on Samsara:

William Craig wrote a book some time ago about the absurdity of life in the absence of the existence of God. If everything leads to death with nothing beyond in a spiritually bereft universe, then what is the point of trudging along from day to day? But we humans are desperately indefatigable in our belief that, in one form or another, we are transcendent and at one with a Divine purpose.

And so, as the movie so gorgeously demonstrates, we build ancient temples, adorn magnificent churches, wail at the wall, suffer the indignities of abject poverty in the midst of over-population and perhaps eke out a living plucking chickens and gathering salable waste from others' garbage - all because next to nothing will permit us to accept the notion that the breadth and depth of our experience begins and ends with our own lives and that there is absolutely no point nor purpose to our infinitesimally insignificant lives beyond what we choose to make if it whilst alive.

For me, the movie's point was to remind me that while not all my life's efforts are futile – beauty, peace and love can be ends in themselves – life's purpose remains as elusive as is our comprehension of our oneness with the cosmos.
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People who liked this also liked "Watching Grass Grow"
iwantyourjob25 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Samsara is like National Geographic on pain pills, set to a mind numbing Enya loop. Nothing more than a picture book. No words, or thoughts expressed, no order, or point whatsoever. Spoiler Alert! An African woman mean mugs a camera for 2 minutes! A white guy in a suit and tie rubs clay on his face, and plays with permanent markers! Fascinating!..that it took five years to piece together a bunch of RANDOM eye catching images. In the last 20 minutes, this is whats crossed my screen. Pigs, cows, and chickens being processed, a fat guy gets a line drawn on his belly, a room full of inanimate sex dolls, strippers (not stripping BTW) and more sex dolls. Figure that out! Mostly what you get out of this is "look at these weird people". Other than that the only message you could take from this ass of a movie is purely cynical. If you really enjoy judging people by their appearances, this is the movie for you! GAHBITCH!
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Samsara is all about the visuals
dalydj-918-25517528 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"With no spoken dialogue throughout Samsara is a documentary met to show the audience all the beautiful imagery that exists throughout the whole entire world"

Sometimes I believe that we as a civilisation living on this planet take for granted all the natural beauty that exists but we never look for. The film is a documentary that was filmed over the period of five years. The film does not have an aim of story to follow because with no spoken dialogue in the film they point of the film seems to be showing the audience the changing landscapes and beauty in even the smallest things around the whole entire globe.

The film as I said contains no narrative as we are transported to the world as we have never seen in before. Some of the imagery presented in the film is large landscapes which look like the ones on postcards, then these landscapes are changed by the light reflected on them but also by time of day the camera is filming these landscapes. Every scene in this film seems very photographic but then the picture will move slightly showing us more to admire. The film also focuses on people looking straight into the camera and these people have such power in their eyes as they display their emotions through their eyes. The film does contain many scenes that move quite quickly as we see many workers working in places. These shots could only have been achieved by many hours of filming only to become faster for the film.

Most of the imagery in the film becomes forgettable quickly only because another one is about to come onto the screen. The main image that was hard to watch in the film was a part in the film when they showed factory life which included the killing of many animals but also how they achieved the processed meat that most people would buy at their locals stores. The images moved fast which was good but still watching it was hard to see. However their were some strange images which came mostly from the people in the film which included a man painting himself in his office, many African people who were painted and a flash mob in a prison as we see the cramped spaces in there too.

The film moved slowly because we saw so much. Even if the film was as great looking it still lacked for me only because with some standout images came some other ones that I have such a hard time remembering.

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