20 years ago a little known film called Baraka became a cult classic amongst artists, art directors and photographers, continually referenced, it has slowly influenced the visual style of both moving and still imagery and defined the 'look' of nature documentaries around the world. Its a contentious argument however, because for every Baraka fan there's a cynic who thinks its just a compilation of stock imagery from around the world.
If you've never seen Baraka you would be wise to pick up a copy from the bargain bin at your local HMV and decide for yourself, but why is this relevant today? Well, this week sees the release of Samsara, a new film by the same team - namely director Ron Fricke and producer Mark Magidson - who have spent the last 5 years touring 25 countries and 5 continents to capture the footage that eventually became Samsara.
The film is a 'non-verbal' exploration of the beautiful and horrific juxtaposition of man and nature set to a sumptuous score of classical and ethnic musical references which support the equally sumptuous visuals which were recorded on a unique 70mm camera and shown with the new Sony 5k cinema projector. The result is breathtaking.
The message behind Samsara is not so easy to explain, four members of the 125 team have seen preview screenings of the film and the verdict is split down the middle with the males eulogising about the visual impact while the female team felt shortchanged by the handedling of the political/ethical message. Gender is no doubt a coincidence in this case but the lack of narration and the slow visual pace is perhaps less original than its first outing in Baraka and the message, similar though it is, is now far more pessimistic. The film provoked such strong debate in the 125 office that we eventually decided to interview producer Mark Magidson for the upcoming TIME issue of the 125 Magazine where the images also have more space to speak for themselves.
Needless to say it is a film of awe inspiring visual beauty which will have you discussing its themes and its meaning for quite some time, in the season of the action block-buster it is a must-see.
Samsara is in cinemas around the UK and further afield from August 31st.