Review: Samsara


Director:Ron Fricke

Running Time:99 Minutes


With Samsara, director
Ron Fricke has created a non-verbal, visual journey through some of the most
beautiful and awe-inspiring areas of the world. Shot over the course of 5 years
across 25 countries and utilizing gorgeous digitally converted 70mm footage,
you'll see images of glorious ancient temples, Chinese meat factories, and
hypnotic religious experiences featuring thousands upon
thousands of people moving in unison. It's not just the gorgeous footage that
drives the film. Fricke expertly explores the themes of "cyclical existence"
(the Sanskrit meaning of the word Samsara)"”more
clearly birth, life, and death.

Throughout the film, we are treated to constant
juxtapositions between old and new, showing not just the differences but also
the surprising similarities. In one series, we see images of tribal families caring
for their children, when suddenly we are shown a Hispanic man covered head to
toe in modern tattoos embracing a newborn baby with the same love.  It's one of the many beautiful moments
in the film that leaves an impact, one that you won't likely shake for quite
some time.

There's even some strictly modern issues dealt with in the
form of exploring how we continue to try to mimic humanity through state-of-the-art
technology, only to realize we are just as robotic as the beings we strive to
create. Time-lapse video of the slow traffic jams of the United States is
spliced together with footage of an army of mindless workers clocking in for
another day at work, finally culminating in an extended sequence showing creepy
robots that look identical to their creators.  Easy? Maybe but that doesn't lessen the impact or the
thought provoking discussions that will take place afterwards.  It's not until the shocking descent into
meat factories where Fricke risks being a little too on-the-nose with his
messages. It's slightly distressing but never excessive or distracting.

Ultimately, Samsara
is simply too good to dwell on the somewhat heavy-handed approach to its
messages.  We are treated to one of
the most beautiful explorations of humanity through a completely visual
experience.  See the film on the
big screen if you can, and you might just come out a little more enlightened"”something
we could all use from time to time.


About Tyler Mager


Leave a Reply