Completed in 2011 but only just released in Australia, Samsara left me quite wordless for some time after viewing. This was somewhat appropriate as Samsara, like Baraka and Chronos before it, is a nonverbal film, like the Qatsi trilogy. Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson spent five years traveling through 25 countries with Panavision 70mm film cameras to shoot this incredible movie.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsara_%282011_film%29
As befitting such a format, the image quality and colouring is just gorgeous. It has a truly rich, organic feeling that is lost in today's Arri Alexa and Red Epic dominated world, and I had not realized this until I saw Samsara on the big screen. The movie is slow and contains stories within stories, creating a visual narrative that comments on many aspects of modern society like the consumerist cycle of creation, consumption and disposal; the manufacture of female beauty; the natural outcomes of violence and war, and the depths of human creation in a religious context.
Some of the imagery is quite blatant: a slow zoom on an obese family in a fast food restaurant, timelapsed to show them eating three burgers each at an absurdly rapid pace; the literal harvesting of live chickens for transport and slaughter; a geisha staring into the camera and crying a single tear. But darn it, it works! The visuals are breathtaking, the editing and camera work are sublime, and the overall feeling and thoughts provoked will leave you churning for a long time.
When I was finally able to speak after the movie, my first words were, 'my work is s**t'. My next words were, 'that was stunning'.
If you like great visuals, timelapse photography, social commentary, and if you like Baraka and Koyaanistqatsi, go see Samsara. I just wish that they were playing it on much bigger screens in Australia.