Perhaps best thought of as 102 minutes of art rather than a conventional feature film, Samsara takes its audience across 25 countries through moving pictures set to an incredible score from Michael Stearns, Lisa Gerrard and Marcello De Francisci.
“Samsara is a rare, mesmerizing film that is beautiful and inspiring”
Directed by Ron Fricke and filmed entirely on 70mm film, Samsara’s moving images document nature, earth and sky, man made buildings, cityscapes and human activity from industrialised farming to mass production and transportation. The use of 70mm film offers high resolution photography with vibrant colours and incredible detail, making for a beautiful cinematic experience. As we watch a man lifting baskets of rocks on his back, minute details are brought to life, from the ripples made in his skin as his body takes the weight, to his scars from a lifetime of hard labour.
Impressive time lapse photography shows large volumes of people moving in and around cities and Meccas. At other points, individuals take centre stage, positioned motionless with a fixed gaze on the camera, offering a window on different identities and cultures.
Samsara – a Sanskrit word meaning ‘the ever turning wheel of life’ – intelligently prompts its audience to consider spirituality, sexuality, the meaning of death and the impact of mass consumerism. It’s a powerful film that puts human life in perspective and provokes contemplation.
Although there is no dialogue, Samsara’s 102 minutes speed by. At times Samsara is relaxing, capturing shadows as they move across the desert and welcoming us into calming religious ceremonies. At other times it is haunting – as desert sand reclaims rock dwellings and the aftermath of hurricane Katrina is made clear in images of devastated homes, Samsara has an eerie presence. Samsara also disturbs, particularly in its images of sexuality and death, but also in its images of industrialised farming, dense populations and mass consumerism. Nature and human life are cleverly juxtaposed, raising questions about their mutual existence.
Samsara is a rare, mesmerizing film that is beautiful and inspiring. An invitation to worlds seldom seen, Samsara stirs varied emotions to powerful effect. Shown in cinemas for one day only, I hope that this masterpiece will return to the big screen for another run enabling more moviegoers to experience Samsara in its full beauty.
VERDICT: ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ 5/5
For more information, see the official website