Samsara
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124 of 134 people found the following review helpful
Just about 30 years ago, "Koyaaniqatsi" was released, a visually overwhelming movie of "life out of balance", and now we get a 21st century update of sorts in this movie.

"Samsara" (2011 release; 99 min.) is a movie in a similar vein as the previously mentioned "Koyaanisqatsi", bringing powerful and at times stunning visuals of our world. The film was made over a 4 year period in over 20 countries, and when I saw it this weekend in the theatre, I was nothing short of amazed of what I saw. I witnessed images I never thought I would see, none more so than the footage of the gathering of hundreds of thousands Muslims gathering in Mecca, brought in stunning visuals, including some time-lapsed footage. Wow, just wow. But there is a lot more. Beware, there are scenes in the movie that are not for the weak of heart, including a number of consumer-oriented scenes (too hard to explain in words, you'll have to see it for yourself). I enjoyed this movie from start to finish, and it rolled by in no time.

As in any of these types of documentaries, the music plays a significant role, since there is no dialogue. The soundtrack is quite nice, mostly by now 62 yr. ambient musician Michael Sterns but it's not quite at the same level of Philip Glass's memorable music in Koyaanisqatsi. But it's a minor quibble. This movie premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September, 2011, and I don't know why it has taken a year to reach the movie theatres, but better late than never. This movie is MILES away from your standard Hollywood commercial fare, but if you are in the mood for something different, "Samsara" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED,
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2012
I made the right choice. I went to see "Samsara" in 70mm at the theater and was shocked how breathtaking the film was. The film begins with Balinese women performing a sacred ritual dance and ends with a group of other dancers duplicating a many-armed goddess of an Eastern religion.

There is no narration...just one image bleeding into another - of both the sacredness of life and its opposite. Although quite a few of these images are familiar to us....they are photographed in such a stunning way - with such depth of field - that they feel fresh again. Examples would be architectural long shots of Gothic Cathedral interiors with multi-colored, perfect stained glass windows, the Hall of Mirrors of Versailles lit by chandeliers, a gorgeous shot of Bryce Canyon National Park, a widescreen view of dozens of ancient Indonesian temples in a lush background of green, or time lapse photography of night Los Angeles with its sparkling lights and streaming cars. Yes...it is truly similar to "Baraka", done by the same cinematographer - but I actually prefer "Samsara". It moved me more profoundly.

Yet, there are troubling - even terrifying images of what mankind is doing to our earth - the reckless creation of enormous rubbish piles of discarded electronics, the mechanized slaughter of mass numbers of chickens and cows in agribusiness, the frightening journey of miners who must hand carry sulfur out of a pit of hell, the senseless distribution of modern guns to the remotest regions of the planet. Alas, the pictures that disturbed me the most were ones in which hordes of people are wearing the same brightly colored uniform, doing the same task over and over again...from Chinese factory workers to Hispanic prisoners. Totalitarianism...or a brave new world.

This is a film that will make you think, and perhaps most important, make you choose. What environment do you want to live in?
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67 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2012
Yes it's a beautiful film about life the struggle between man and nature.ideological based strife
And those that have a lot materially and those that don't. It's shot at 65mm then processed onto 4k digital. The opening shots of a lava eruption both day and night shots are simply stunning. There are some disturbing shots that have to do with slaughter of chickens and pigs so keep this in mind. There are tender shots too so do not despair. The breadth of imagery is so rich, powerful and really unforgettable it will enrich you 4.5 stars
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52 of 60 people found the following review helpful
This amazing Special Interest Documentary was filmed over a four year period in twenty-five countries on five continents, which produces breathtaking visual effects of natural wonders, sacred grounds, and other exciting places. Director Ron Fricke transports us all around the globe through lush, gorgeous images as each incredible photo tells a story of the world we live in. This fascinating trip around the world onscreen takes us to mysterious places we have never seen, from the mundane to the miraculous. We experience the ultimate, appealing wordless meditation, an unforgettable experience. This captivating film chronicles birth, life, death, and destruction. The cycles of life are witnessed through silent, visual mind-blowing storytelling. In addition, there is an emotional power behind each image as the film reflects on society, humanity, and nature. Soothing music, such as a harp infuses the ancient with the modern, illuminating the connection between humanity and nature. As we continue to travel, we will see Chinese factory workers, the freeways of L.A.,and the moon traveling over a desert sky. However, this thrilling ride doesn't stop there as we view a young African mother and child, a chicken factory, destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina and much more. Some beautiful images will uplift our spirits, and other photos will have us asking silent questions. The ride is inspiring and enjoyable. Technical achievements are remarkable. Overall, refreshing, and very interesting!
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46 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2012
I saw Samsara about a week ago in the theater. It was originally released back in September 2011 at the Toronto International Film Festival. I had checked out the critics reviews and most gave the thumbs up. Let me say I have seen Baraka and have it on blu ray and was blown away the first time I saw it. When I heard that Samsara was in production starting in 2007 I eagerly awaited it's release for 4 years. After watching Samsara, I came away disappointed. It did not have the same powerful emotional or visual effect on me that Baraka did and still does. I have watched Baraka many many times. Samsara seems to be image without coherence like one other reviewer has stated. To me the music also did not have that powerful emotional kick that Baraka does. The images are very good in Samsara and some of the music is good. I will buy Samsara on blu ray, but for me Baraka will always be the litmus test.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2012
I had an afternoon to kill and saw that this was playing at our local indie theater. I didn't really know what to expect but it sounded interesting enough. Wow! Interesting doesn't begin to cover it. I was mesmerized, stunned, transported, fascinated, hypnotized, spellbound, enchanted, bedazzled - in summary, totally blown away! A bona fide phantasmagoria. To make it even more bizarre and surreal, I was the only person in the entire theater. It made me feel that I was alone in my own spaceship which had traveled to unimaginable worlds, reality suspended. I did not want the trip to end but when it did I floated out of the theater. I have just ordered the Blue-ray and will be an evangelist for this film.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2012
This is an incredible, sublime, evocative and visually stunning work of accessable fine art. Before Baraka, nothing compared to Koyannisqatsi, and until now, nothing compared to Baraka. If you've not seen those two films, you should! I've been waiting for two years to see this film and it was worth the wait. With larger screen HD Televisions, the afore mentioned masterpieces, and this one, when released on DVD, will be some of the most beautiful films you will ever experience at home. That said, if Samsara is playing in a theatre near you, GO SEE IT ON A HUGE WIDE SCREEN NOW!!! If you are looking for mindless entertainment, skip Samsara, but if you want something that will get under your skin, tap into your soul and remind you of who and what we are on the grandest scale, you won't be disappointed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2012
This film, a sequel to Baraka, is the latest in many films in the style of the Qatsi trilogy, is one of the best yet. Shot in 70mm over a period of several years and in dozens of countries is just breathtaking. The scenes include flying over Los Angeles at night with a time-lapse camera, scenes of an abandoned mining town in Namibia shot inside buildings half buried in sand dunes, time lapse scenes of Muslim pilgrims circling the Kaaba in Mecca, scenes in factories and many others.

The film had a limited theatrical run that is still going on at the time of this writing. Many, including myself, saw the film as a allegory comparing "civilized" industrialized westerners with the "savage" agrarian third world, and questioning who is more civilized, a western society obsessed with consumerism, over the Eastern, and African cultures who live in small villages and are more self-sufficient.

The film makes a good point on this issue about how industrialized society often attains this at the expense of the third world who ends up with much of our trash, namely obsolete computer parts and other electronic waste.

The film is appropriate for most ages but there are some scenes that some may find disturbing. IMDB's parents guide on the film's page there lists them. It is well worth these few moments to see the spectacular other scenes in the film. I saw it twice in theatres and would have gone again if it ran longer than it did in my area.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2013
One of the most difficult reviews I will ever write:

This is the most enigmatic piece of cinematography I have ever laid eyes on. The film transcends religion, language, ethnicity, nationality, and individual differences, opening the floodgates of higher thinking. I am a very analytical personality type, and this film is so many things to me. This film is beautiful, inspiring, uplifting, disturbing, upsetting, and agonizing all at once. Overall, the film left me feeling so far removed from the comfortable, routine of the daily grind I have been living in, and had me asking myself some very difficult questions, mostly, why am I here. The last time I felt this way was after a 3-month trip to Uganda for volunteer work in rural jungle villages when I was a junior in college. If you take the film seriously and really ponder it, it will shake you up and leave you feeling a little lied to by your own culture. You forget how wildly biased we all are, and how focused on ourselves we really have become.

Considering recent events with the Zimmerman/Martin trial, the Boston Marathon bombings, and school shootings, this film really highlights how we fail to see how interconnected we are, and that we are all in this thing called life together. I could go on and on for pages about the many meanings that I derived from this film, but I won't. The important thing is that you watch it and find out what is says to you, what it means to you. I mean, wow, I just felt kind of blind-sided after I watched it, I really wasn't prepared for such a deep experience, and I think about it quite often, even though I watched it over 3 months ago.

Definitely worth owning.

Best,
-Ben
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2012
This is a breathtaking film. At times, it feels as though the viewer is high above the earth watching a high speed view of life as it occurs on a daily basis in many countries and cultures throughout the world.

There are a few sequences, however, which are very disturbing, and are shocking enough to make me feel like they took me out of the film for a short time. Those sequences also make it difficult for me to recommend the film to anyone without warning. Although I am reticent to include any kind of spoiler in a review, I will say that the sequences have to do with how we slaughter our food. If you cannot bear it, you may want to rent this film later, and skip over those sequences.

Absent those sections of the film, I would have seen this film as many times as I could have fit into my schedule while it is on the big screen. Given those sequences, I'll wait and rent it. They are simply too vivid for me to want to see again.

With this heads up, enjoy this film... It is incredible.
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