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on January 19, 2016
Samsara is a film that takes us throughout the world, to take a look at one of the most biologically successful mammalian species, namely us. The film is fascinating in terms of the images, but it is the consequences of this success that we see being depicted on the screen. Yes, we are successes, in terms of biology. In those terms, all that counts, so to speak, is shear numbers, and there are a lot of us. But the success is depicted as coming, in part, with isolation, and lives of deep alienation from our natures. Despite just being a film of images, it does have a Buddhist flavor of "Samsara", and this is clear both at the beginning and the end of the film, when the patterns return to dust. From dust we come, and to dust we return. The images are powerful ones, of both nature and man. The suggestion is that we are turning ourselves, and our animal slaves, into mere machines, and that, from a distance, this up close wheel of suffering has a distinct, inhuman beauty about it. The film left me feeling sad, but there is also the large view that this human world is just the dust of the cosmos.
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on March 12, 2015
Samsara is another masterpiece from director Ron Fricke which a number of people familiar with his films such as Baraka (director) and Koyaanisqatsi (cinematographer) seem to have dismissed as “more of the same”. Well in a world where the identically imprinted plot of Hangover 2 gets released to wild financial success, I will take more of the same of THIS type of film ANY day! More flawless editing, cinematography and provocative compositions shot over 5 years in 25 countries and on 5 continents? Yes, please! @kmptop10
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on March 3, 2014
This film is reminiscent to me of the "Powaqqatsi" trilogy of films, in that it depicts scenes from many countries around the world, with no narration or musical track whatsoever. But while "Powaqqatsi" had a rather negative tone to it (easy to justify), depicting mankind and in particular the industrialized nations as exploiting, pillaging and destroying both older ways of life more in harmony with the environment, ad the environment itself, this film overall has a more uplifting tone to it.

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
very similar).

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.
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on June 25, 2014
If you enjoyed Baraka [Blu-ray], then you will like this film. If you didn't like Baraka, this film will not change your mind. Personally, I like this filmaker's work, so I was not disappointed. You will see some amazing images of our world here, both gorgeous and grotesque.

Irregardless of what the creators say, Samsara is very similar to Baraka - similar time lapse sequences, similar "dead on" portraiture, similar (very) soundtrack. A couple of the locations from Baraka are revisited, and shot from different (and stunning) vantage points. There seems to be more aerial shots in Samsara.

Once you reach the conclusion of these two works, I think that Baraka is more successful at feeling like a complete experience, and I would recommend that people watch it first to see if this style of film is their cup of tea.

Note that Samsara does have a higher amount of images that can be disturbing.
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on March 9, 2014
This is a gripping documentary with no words. Just stunning cinematography. See our planet like never before. Samsara weaves between many different topics and gorgeous locations to paint a picture like no other! It will leave you in awe. It will horrify you as well. Either way, I don't see how you can leave this experience unchanged.

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.
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on August 10, 2015
This movie is fantastic -- the visuals and score at once show our global magnificence and challenges. Like Baraka, It can be watched over and over with full intensity (i see more and more every time), OR be played in the background when socializing. There is no dialogue to follow -- so can just dip in occasionally -- prompts profound discussions, observations, and deeper awareness of human connectedness (and separation) that transcends language.

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 !!
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on April 25, 2018
For a movie with little to no dialogue, I was moved. I originally watched this in a film theory class and could not believe what I saw.

EVERY CINEMATOGRAPHY or anyone that wants to be one, NEEDS to watch this. Every single shot is well thought out and captured in a stunning 8k resolution.

This movie is not for those with a weak heart. It will open your eyes to things that just seem too sad to be true.

Highly recommend though.
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on December 23, 2013
I recently wrote a review of Baraka, entitling it "Sublime Mystery". The makers of both Baraka and Samsara take us even deeper into that mystery in Samsara. Not only stunning to our senses, Samsara takes us on a sort of guided meditation that allows a more gentle unfolding of the sublime mystery of the interconnection of all things to be revealed. Samsara, meaning the cycle of birth and death, not only of the individual but of everything in existence including whole ecosystems and civilizations, tries to take us right through that cycle from the beginning of the film to the end - so that we will see the interconnected cycle, know it and understand it. Making such a film with such a goal is an astonishing task to take on, and Ron Fricke has done this admirably. To everyone, lease see Samsara! I would recommend this film to all viewers over Baraka, because of its more gentle transitions that serve to leave us less in confusion and more in a condition of awe-ful contemplation. Seeing this film might truly help us to change how we see our world.
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on July 31, 2017
To many close ups of faces. Very brief clips of some interesting things while other uninteresting clips are dragged out longer than needed. Could probably pull up half the items on youtube. It nice to have a variety in one disc but overall I felt it lacking.
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on February 19, 2018
Watch it on LSD. This work of art is open to interpretation as you travel through different cultures, environments, and points of view in order to gain insight on a small portion of what this "world" is.
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