Samsara is a word that describes the ever turning wheel of life. It is a concept both intimate and vast - the perfect subject for filmmakers Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson, whose previous collaborations include Chronos and Baraka, and who, in the last 20 years, have travelled to over 58 countries together in the pursuit of unique imagery. Samsara takes the form of a nonverbal, guided meditation that will transform viewers in countries around the world as they are swept along a journey of the soul. Through powerful images pristinely photographed in 70mm and a dynamic music score, the film illuminates the links between humanity and the rest of the nature, showing how our life cycle mirrors the rhythm of the planet.
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In Terrence Malick's film "The Tree of Life" there is a twenty minute sequence that depicts the birth of the world, the Big Bang Theory; it is breath-taking and the only reason to see the movie. Ron Frick and Mark Magidson's "Samsara" is a glorious extravaganza, a homage to the universe through the eyes of imposing, innovative geniuses. Wordlessly, we travel through 25 countries, accompanied by the haunting sound track of Michael Stearns, Lisa Gerrard and Marcello De Francicisci; hypnotically, we tramp through temples, fly over the formidable dunes of Namibia, interrupt monks at prayer; marvel at the disparity between wealth and poverty in the third world; mourn the devastation left in the wake of hurricane "Katrina"; dance with the limbered, beautifully, intentionally- deformed hands of Indonesian beauties; see the frenetic processing plants in Japan and China: watch the fascinating evolution from life, death, to the markets, of livestock, robotically accomplished by thousands of anonymous factory workers; crawl through the detritus, garbage with the rag -pickers in India.
The unrelenting pace, dizzying speed in which Fricke and Magidson touch upon all religions; the manufacture of guns and bullets; nature and man working in tandem and against each other; unblinking individuals, indistinguishable from sculptural artifacts, gifts the viewer a roller-coaster ride of exhilarating, exhausting magnitude; witnessing visual, sensual, incredulous pageantry.
It is daunting to choose a resonating scene, they are all meaningful, mesmerizing, memory-binding; but seeing the "inmates" performing in perfect harmony; a pristine Frenchman transform himself from mundane to monster; a single tear descending the luminous cheek of an Asian angel; vast, cinematic landscapes referencing God's and man's omnipotence, magnificence; leaving one with a sense of peace, grace, wonder and awe that filmmakers, taking seven years, have produced a tour de force; unquestionable eminence, destined to reign permanently, in the hierarchy of film masterpieces.