Filmed over a period of 5 years in 25 countries, Samsara transports us to disaster zones, enormous cities, and natural landmarks as we get to witness breathtaking imagery.
This movie is unlike any other film I have ever seen. It has no words, no plot, and no characters. Its only purpose is to present us with dozens upon dozens of overwhelmingly beautiful photographs featuring many wonders around the world. Just about every single shot is masterfully filmed. I could take almost every single photo from the movie, hang it on a poster on my wall, and admire it for years. This movie displays some of the most beautiful images I have ever seen before.
The music is also great too. But most of the time, you won't notice it because you'll be distracted on a great shot. However, the music is just noticeable and quiet enough to give you a good feeling and you'll find that it immerses you even more into the film even when you pay more attention to the shots. It works with the movie very well and it engaged me even more.
I really want to give this a 5/5 but there were a few sequences which bugged me. One of the scenes contained a group of female strippers dancing around in a circle. The other one contained a slaughter house and it showed us animals getting turned into food (don't worry, it's not too graphic). There were also a few other scenes which didn't interest me. Those scenes kind of took me out of the experience for a bit because I didn't feel that they looked as dazzling as many of the other scenes in the movie. Fortunately, there were only a few of those scenes in the entire film but it did annoy me a great deal when those sequences happened.
Despite the few weaker sequences, I for one extremely enjoyed the film. I can safely say that I've felt more engaged in this movie then almost every other film I've ever seen before (even some of my top 10 favorite movies of all time). If you're a fan of photography then this is definitely the biggest must-see film ever. I might check out Ron Fricke's other 2 films (Baraka and Chronos) sometime in the future to see if they can match up to this one.
"Samsara" can be interpreted as the cycle of life; the birth, dying and rebirth of all things. It would be quite a challenge to come up with examples to give the readers of this reviews a taste of what the film "Samsara" entails, however I'll try. Shot without descriptive words, but with elegantly selected music, Ron Fricke gives the audience members a view of our world most will never see. There are so many images that tie the story of "Samsara" together. A few that I'm reminded of at the moment of this writing are: The three young Balinese dancers, at the beginning, and the way they held their unchanging expressions. The Chinese troupe doing the 1,000 hands dance towards the end of the film and their amazing arm movement. The food segments were very powerful; where we see how food in processed in plants in various parts of the world, even the US, then segueing to an overweight American family eating processed fast food, ending with a very large obese man getting marked by a surgeon for weight loss surgery. It was a very graphic sequence. Watching Tibetan Monks creating a large sand mandala while young monks, carefully and intently, watched their technique was stirring. The construction is practically grain by grain over a number of days and is stunning to watch. The breathtaking colors being destroyed at the end, which completes the mandala's cycle, exemplifies "Samsara". Then there are amazing shots of religious buildings and areas across the globe. Mecca invites curiosity by seeing hundreds of thousands of people bowing and praying in unison while another hundred thousand are circling the Black Stone of the Kaaba. We see the Buddhist temples of Bagan in Myanmar, and Tibetian Buddhists in Ledakh India. We see the amazing cathedrals of Notre Dame , Mont Saint Michel in France, the Basilica Di San Pietro in Italy, and the Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem. There are segments of people of all types and them at work. The poorest of the poor in Sao Paulo Brazil, the suffering sulfur mine workers in Indonesia, a life size doll factory in Japan, a coffin building shop in Ghana and people going through the trash dumps in Quezon City in the Philippines and Accra, Ghana. The segment where prisoners dance on the exercise yard in the Philippines was oddly engaging. The physical beauty of the planet is one of the stars of this film: Volcanos, canyons, forests, water, and the beauty of buildings humans have created like the Pyramids, man-made islands, shopping centers, and other amazing constructions. One of the most powerful (and sad) segments was on the creation of guns. We see manufacturing and we see owners, proud owners, of their weapons that kill. One warrior in Omo Valley was especially arresting to look at. Samsara, the life, death and life again of everything. Truly a film of beauty creating thought provoking questions.
Ron Fricke is an amazing director. His vision is sublime. Like in his film Baraka, he selects stunning locations and gives the viewer so much information about humanity that one will leave the theater slightly stunned, intriguingly awake, and filled with thoughts about our place on this blue marble we call Earth.
Overall: Amazing and overwhelmingly rich in beauty and thoughtful probes into our inner life.
This might just be my favorite film of all time. Thank you for brining this art to the world. I just wish I would have had the opportunity to see it on the big screen.