Filmed over five years, five continents and 25 countries, Samsara is a visual journey across the globe, from Buddhist monks, to the jungle, to the cathedrals of Europe and the ancient temples of Asia.
Ron Fricke was widely acclaimed for his 1992 doc Baraka, a sweeping collage of images from across the globe. Samsara, his belated follow-up, is in a similar vein. Like paging through the world’s largest, most lavish issue of National Geographic, only with more exciting musical accompaniment, it can hardly be beaten for sheer spectacle. All shot on 70mm film, image after image of both natural and spiritual wonders dazzle here, be they remote Buddhist monasteries or eerie post-Katrina debris. The problem lies in its sermonising: there’s beauty in the modern world, too, but Samsara is too busy decrying commercialism to notice.
A semi-sequel to the acclaimed Baraka (1992), Fricke delivers another stunning spectacle in 70mm, interspersed with some tiresome sermonising.
Reviewed by Guy Lodge