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Review: Samsara

August 22, 2012

Film + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia


Samsara is a Sankrit word that means ‘the ever turning wheel of life”. The film of the same name is a breathtaking piece of cinema that takes you on a unique global journey that evokes the interconnected experiences that occur relentlessly on our vast planet.  Another ambitious undertaking, Samsara, reunites director Ron Fricke and producer Mark Magidson, who have already received an abundance of critical acclaim for their films Baraka and Chronos. Their latest cinematic achievement is really nothing short of magical.

Samsara spans the globe in less than two hours and this mammoth endeavour took over five years of dedicated filmmaking. Samsara is a non-verbal documentary of life and experience that transports audiences through twenty five countries; spanning sacred lands, industry, tradition, modernity and natural wonders. It contains no narrative dialogue, but instead an astounding soundtrack that makes the film a full on sensory experience, that feels more natural, subjective and interpretive than receiving information via a factual documentary format. This is cinema in its most mesmerising and purist form.

The technical achievements of this film are astounding. The use of 70mm film enables the delivery of fascinating shifts in perspective; providing views of the world that are powerful and often surprising. Samsara reveals the beauty and horror that exists side by side on our vast planet, through the use of time lapse sequences, fast editing and a stunning musical soundtrack. Samsara spans birth, life, death and everything in-between through footage that includes battery farms, Tibetan Monks, striking landscapes and touching personal human experiences. The circle is a recurrent motif in this film and it manages to touch all emotions and senses. By the end you’ve been subtly delivered an abundance of questions and insights into human and nature’s effect and experience on our incredible planet.

The experience of watching this film is like inhaling the world. You’re mesmerized by the sounds and images that affect you like a gentle but powerful tide, making time slip through your fingers like the sand in the deserts that are covered on the screen.  Please, go see this film.

Kerry Flint.