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Prepare yourself for an unparalleled sensory experience. Filmed over a period of almost five years and in twenty-five countries, SAMSARA explores the wonders of the world from sacred grounds to industrial sites, looking into the unfathomable reaches of man s spirituality and the human experience. Photographed entirely in 70mm and transferred to 4K digital projection format, SAMSARA s mesmerizing images of unprecedented clarity illuminate the links between humanity and the rest of nature, showing how our life cycle mirrors the rhythm of the planet. Neither a traditional documentary nor a travelogue, SAMSARA is a guided meditation on the current of interconnection that runs through all of our lives.
Filmed over five years, in locations in 25 countries, it is the kind of experience you simply sink into. --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times
A ridiculously ambitious cinematic experiment, a poetic and impressionistic visual essay shot entirely on 70mm film under exceptionally difficult conditions in dozens of locations scattered across five continents. --Andrew O Hehir, Salon.com
SAMSARA is gorgeous --Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
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I'd say it depicts both aspects of humanity: our striving for something transcendant, something spiritual, as well as our lower nature leading to exploitation of others and of the environment. And it hints at a relationship between our own spiritual progress (or lack thereof) and the earth's response to us.
Many of the scenes depict places of worship, from most of the world's great religions. Interspersed with them are many fantastically beautiful natural scenes (suggesting to me at least that the earth itself is like a temple in which we can
appreciate the Creator's handiwork). And also interspersed are scenes of sorrow, disaster and wrong-doing, on
individual and collective scales. For example there are scenes of terrible devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina
(at first I thought this was from the tsunami off Indonesia in 2004; probably some coastal scenes from that event looked
The word "Samsara" has a long tradition in Eastern religions, associated with the idea that the soul is reborn in the world many times in a process of spiritual evolution. One does not have to believe in the idea of reincarnation, I think, to recognize that the title reflects the idea that life is a spiritual journey and a search for the eternal amid the transitory.
One "central" image (because the film shows it early on and returns to it again, including toward the end) is of a Buddhist monk instructing young students in the art of creating sand pictures. The grains of sand are beautifully pigmented with the most vivid imaginable colors: blue, green, red, gold, etc. They are placed so carefully that it appears pretty much one grain at a time. The complete image is a type of mandala of great beauty. When it is completed, the "painter" straightens up and they all gaze at the beauty of the work of art wordlessly for a moment. Then the monk squats down again, and sweeps all the sand away. Gone is the
work of art, created with such loving care and hundreds of hours of work. No sooner is it finished than it is erased.
One scene in this film also appears in "Workingman's Death" by the German director Glawogger. That depicts sulfur mining on the slopes of a volcano in Indonesia.
Another of what I found the most fascinating scenes is from a prison in the Phillipines (the location was not stated during the scene) in which all of the male inmates practice a group dance together, set to music (while female inmates and prison guards watch on). The inmates are obviously very much enjoying this rather artistic workout.
If you watch this it should definitely be in high-definition, as you will miss some of the beauty of the scenes in a lower definition format. I very much enjoyed this and thought it one of the best movies I had watched in the year.
A few of my friends kept asking me, "Where is this?" when the camera turned to a new location, and never tells you where we are. "On the Planet Earth," seems to be the only answer. Its fun to guess, but I like that you can say that the world has these wonderful places, rather than that a specific country or continent does. On the flip-side, when the film shows you disasters from around the globe, it doesn't let you simply dismiss it as, "That country's problem." Instead, Samsara paints some universal problems for us all to work on.
If you enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of our planet as shown in this film, you will realize we need to address the absurdity of neglect. Some of my friends felt sadness or despair, because they didn't know how to fix the problems themselves. At times, the enormity of a problem can seem daunting to an individual, but I find tremendous hope with the fact that more people are learning about these concerns. I especially feel that children need to see Samsara. Perhaps a few of them will grasp a way to fix one of those concerns in the future. Perhaps someone will rise to a position where they can address some of those concerns, and the viewers of this film will recognize the need to support that effort. Then we can all go back to playing video games, I suppose.
The 70mm transfer is fantastic on my HD projector (120" screen viewed from 8' away) - can't wait to see it in 70mm IMAX film and 4k.
I hope someone turns this into 3D !!