Samsara

2011

Directed by Ron Fricke

Documentary

Samsara is a Tibetan word meaning ‘the ever turning wheel of life,’ or ‘continuous flow.’ It’s a word present in Buddhist circles mostly and sums up the cycle of birth, life, death and then rebirth. Now I may be a bit bias with this one, Buddhism interests me and I’ve even made a film about it, but that aside I genuinely feel this is a brilliant film.

It’s a non-narrative piece of cinema and was shot over a period of five years – on 70mm film which looks gorgeous. We visit 25 countries over 5 continents and explore the world and humanity’s relationship to the eternal.

If you’re familiar with director Ron Fricke’s work, Chronos (1985) and Baraka (1992), you’ll get what this is about and understand why it’s a must watch. And as always, everything from the music to the cinematography is stunning. To get this point across to you, Fricke is the kind of director that will wait for certain seasons and certain lunar phases just to make sure the lighting on one shot is how he wants it.

Don’t wait for the DVD release, this will be an injustice. Go and see the cinema in a way you’ve probably never seen it before. Then find an independent theatre and beg them to show the other two films mentioned. I’m lucky enough to have a cinema at my uni and have watched the films properly that way, don’t miss out.

Another film of this style is Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi (1982). Though this isn’t as good as Fricke’s work.

Now get the fuck to the cinema.

10/10

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