Movie of the Day – Baraka
August 3, 2012 5 Comments
After watching the latest trailer for Samsara by director Ron Fricke, I couldn’t help myself and went back to his previous work Baraka. If you have never seen films like Chronos or the Qatsi Trilogy, then you are truly missing out on some of the most visually impressive, non-narrative films ever made. Samsara will be on my must see list this year, but for the time being, Baraka will have to fill the audio/visual void in my life. It is a magnificent piece of cinematic prowess, showcasing a non-narrative structure about the world we live in, split into 3 sections.
Named after a Sufi word that translates roughly as “breath of life” or “blessing,” Baraka is Ron Fricke’s impressive follow-up to Godfrey Reggio’s non-verbal documentary film Koyaanisqatsi. Fricke was cinematographer and collaborator on Reggio’s film, and for Baraka he struck out on his own to polish and expand the photographic techniques used on Koyaanisqatsi. The result is a tour-de-force in 70mm: a cinematic “guided meditation” (Fricke’s own description) shot in 24 countries on six continents over a 14-month period that unites religious ritual, the phenomena of nature, and man’s own destructive powers into a web of moving images. Fricke’s camera ranges, in meditative slow motion or bewildering time-lapse, over the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the Ryoan-Ji temple in Kyoto, Lake Natron in Tanzania, burning oil fields in Kuwait, the smoldering precipice of an active volcano, a busy subway terminal, tribal celebrations of the Masai in Kenya, chanting monks in the Dip Tse Chok Ling monastery…and on and on, through locales across the globe. ~ Anthony Reed, Rovi
In our technology saturated age of internet and computers, there seems to be little left in the way of unexplored life. We can travel the globe with the click of a button, scroll through a wall of text that tells us everything we want to know in life, and we are no longer bound by distance in order to explore the world which is at our fingertips. Baraka, done in 1993, manages to still astound me in every sense of the word. Ron Fricke explores the world in a way we never though possible, capturing the very essence of life as it exists in our world. A gorgeous, cinematic achievement in cinematography that brings us small instances of a life existing across the entire world in stunning beauty.
Baraka is broken out into three different section, capture life in different stages in this world. The first part looks at locales that are untouched by human intervention. Viewing indigenous people and their interaction with nature and how it is incorporated into their life with a supreme reverence. We see a world that is pristine, sacred and tranquil. Next is the current world, a world in which humans have pushed away nature to make room for the burgeoning industry and travel. Last is a profile of the civilizations of the past, being slowly reclaimed by nature and how their society existed. Each segment goes through this poetic staging of life. Nature being untouched and slowly incorporated with people, then a civilization blooms and nature is destroyed, and finally when that society grows to big and collapses, the lasting impressions and marks on the world it inhabited is reflected upon.
It is a beautiful film and the words I am trying to use to describe the film cannot do it justice. This is a must see film that will open your eyes to a world that has little mystery left to show. A perfect window into our existence and relation to the planet we call home.