Wednesday, February 1, 2012
100 Movies - No. 12: Baraka
Documentary, 96 minutes
Directed by Ron Fricke
There are few films that I think everyone should watch at least once, but Baraka may be one of them. Perhaps it should be shown in schools too? It's arguably the strangest choice on my list.
Baraka is a word in the ancient Sufi language meaning "the thread that weaves life together" and the film contains no dialogue and no explanation. It's a series of images taken from 24 different countries. Some of the images show scenes of animal life or extreme beauty; others show human rituals and the effects of war or poverty. The result provokes a lot of thought if you are open to such things.
Shot on 70mm film, the Blu-ray presentation is among the best live action films the format has to offer. Some of the images are located in places that are not normally accessible to people. An image of an underground cavern springs to mind.
If you follow the film closely, you are likely to be moved. The beauty is breathtaking, but some of the sadder scenes could take your breath away for a different reason. The contrast between good and evil is one of the themes running throughout the documentary. You might also question the path you have chosen in your life when you realize that most humans are continually racing toward something and few stop to appreciate the beauty in their lives.
The special features are informative and almost as interesting as the film itself. If you are curious about where the images came from, the special features answer most of your questions.
If you like Baraka:
Ron Fricke is also responsible for Samsara, shown at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. It appears to be similar in content, but I'm waiting for the Blu-ray release before I see it.
If you enjoyed the scenes of natural beauty and animal life in Baraka, the BBC documentaries narrated by David Attenborough are worth your time. The best of those on Blu-ray are Planet Earth and Life.
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