A hallucinatory nonverbal trip tackling the central theme of humanity’s relationship with the world, Samsara is a remarkable work five years in the making, taking the audience on a tour through twenty five countries.
Primarily the vision of Ron Fricke, the director and cinematographer best known for Koyaanisqatsi (1983) and Bakara (1992), the film is a series of thought provoking images and scenes, wonderfully bound together by astute and intelligent editing and a haunting soundtrack, including work from Lisa Gerrard of 80′s and 90′s ambient/soundscape artists Dead Can Dance.
From the introductory scenes of a group of Buddhist monks etching a wheel in the sand – Samsara roughly translates as ‘wheel of existence’ – it is clear that we are in the realm of the sublime. What follows is almost like a detective story where the audience is required to piece together the ‘story’ from visual clues. From the sadness in the eyes of a tribeswoman and then a cut to a sprawling motorway, Samsara contains a wealth of powerful images that cannot help but imprint themselves on the consciousness. While some may find the journey a gruelling one, if entered into in the correct, receptive way, an enlightening experience awaits.
Fundamental questions of the human condition are asked within this startling film; philosophy and religion, conservation, meat production, gun sales, imprisonment and the sex trade. Highly recommended, the stark message of the film seems to be that unless we look at how we interact with each other and the world, the sands of time will soon run out.
Released in selected cinemas 31 August 2012
Reviewer: Robert W. Monk