Samsara, Triskel September 30-October 3, Cert: 12A, Four stars out of Five
Movie review by GARAETH NAUGHTON
SAMSARA is the result of an enormous undertaking that saw director Ron Fricke traverse the globe for five years filming the world in its beautiful and harsh reality.
While it certainly isn’t a movie or documentary in the traditional sense, it does have its own story to tell and it definitely leaves its mark.
A follow up to Baraka, the 1992 film that you sometimes see trotted out on late-night television, Samsara (the name is Sanskrit for wheel of life which should give you some clue as to what we have here), was shot over five years in 25 countries.
The result is a series of stunning images — often time-lapsed — set to music which have no real discernible story, but collectively work to say something about the world that we live in today.
What you take away from Samsara is entirely up to you and it will be different for each audience member. For some, Samara may be defined by the haunting images of people working their way through a pile of rubbish hoping find something to sell or use or the disquieting sight of New Orleans devastated post Katrina. You might choose to focus on how lovely the world can be — the stunning natural and manmade vistas that Fricke captures on rich 70mm film.
All human life is here for you to drink in basically.
It would be easy to make one of those entirely positive and uplifting films where you just show happy people flying kites and doing joyous things, but Fricke doesn’t shirk from his responsibilities when it comes to the grotty truth about existence. So you’ll marvel at the Buddhist monks who patiently work on a sand painting only to destroy it as soon as they are done, but at the other end of it you are also subjected to upsetting imagery of battery hens and other kinds of animal cruelty. It’s a little heavy handed at times, but Fricke gets his point across.
It is a film that demands to be seen on the big screen. It has been filmed for the cinema and that is where it is going to be most impressive and where it will have its strongest impact. A laptop just won’t cut it so don’t even think about it.
See Gareth’s reviews of Looper and The Campaign in Downtown, free with Thursday’s Cork Evening Echo