The Beauty of "Baraka" Finds a Successor in "Samsara" Review

Part of the visionary genius behind The Qatsi Trilogy owes credit to the eye of cinematographer Ron Fricke, whose own film Baraka has become a visual standard unto itself. His follow-up film Samsara, follows almost 20 years later and took five years to put together thanks to its highly varied content and the globetrotting approach, capturing moments of human life and industry across 25 countries. It’s an absolutely stunning work of cinematography and Fricke’s eye for detail and color has only improved over the years, and now it has the benefit of high-definition to make it downright breathtaking at times in terms of scope, and at other times it manages to make the mundane seem incomprehensibly special.

Like with Baraka and much of Fricke’s work, there’s no real narrative to be found hidden in the deluge of carefully captured moments, but rather an underlying sentiment. It’s simultaneously a message of hope and despair in the current state of the human condition: the mindless processes of industry, the serene sense of community of a monastery high atop a mountain, a phenomenal execution of a bodhisattva dance, or the dancing of now internet-famous dancing of the CPDRC prison inmates. All of these moments blend together to form a tapestry of humanity, never really passing judgment but simply holding them up for observation and letting the differences and similarities between otherwise disparate cultures shine through.

Samsara is an unquestionably beautiful film and assuming you have the attention span to let yourself bask in its moments of beauty you’re in for a treat, though the film obviously won’t appeal to everyone thanks to its lack of structure and narrative. Either way, the beauty of the film benefits in a huge way from the crystal clear resolution of Blu-ray and it makes the film a genuine sight to behold.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

A very worthwhile production featurette is the best extra on the disc, and it’s followed closely by an interview with Director Ron Fricke.

"Samsara" is on sale January 8, 2013 and is rated PG13. Documentary. Directed by Ron Fricke.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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