Nearly five years in the making, director Ron Fricke‘s attempt to capture the Buddhist idea of samsara (the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth) on 70mm is an intriguing proposition. Filming in more than 25 countries across five continents, Fricke and his team captured shots across the globe of nature, temples, ruins, cityscapes, their various inhabitants, and more.
Samsara doesn’t have a narrative structure in the conventional sense, but the amazing amount of timelapse footage from Fricke and his team paints a beautiful (and occasionally creepy) picture of our planet and its inhabitants sometimes set to music and sometimes set only to the natural sounds of the surroundings.
As as a cinematic achievement Samsara is impressive, however some viewers may find the film’s lack of structure or more coherent message disappointing.
I was disappointed that the film never identifies any of the numerous locations used throughout the movie. From assembly lines to the the site of an active volcano, the film takes us through a beautiful and disturbing images, only occasionally making oblique references to how they may fit together (such as the images of strippers and live dolls, graveyards following by images of soldiers, and shots of slums followed by those of exquisite high rises). The result is an impressive feat of filmmaking that allows you to get lost in its visual journey across the globe and forces the viewer to make their own conclusions about the footage presented to them, how it fits together, and what it all means.
[MPI Home Video, Blu-ray $34.98 / DVD $27.98]