Director: Ron Fricke
Running Time: 102 mins
Samsara is an American documentary that looks at the natural world and the human influence and role within it, and the story of human and natural life from birth until death.
Well, this is a completely different film to any other that you’d experience. Effectively, it’s nearly two hours worth of landscape shots and close-ups of people from all around the world, with no commentary or narration whatsoever.
However, when you put it like that, it sounds boring, but this film is far from that (it’s nearly impossible to accurately describe this film without you having seen it). Yes, it may be incredibly slow and tough to get interested in, and yes, you do have to be focussing at the top of your abilities to really get anything out of it apart from the feeling that you’ve watched a two hour-long slideshow, but if you’re in the right mindset, you can really have a fantastic experience watching this film.
And the main reason for it being so brilliant in that respect is the fact that it’s absolutely breathtaking to look at. It’s not only filled with dazzling time lapses, stunning landscape shots, but also close-ups on people from all different walks of life, from African tribesmen to Japanese robots.
I would probably say that this is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen, helped of course by the fact that it was all filmed on 70mm film, however it’s not only the stunning visuals that make it so brilliant to watch.
One hugely important part of this film is the score. When you’ve got no narration, the score takes over that role, and while it may not seem as if you’re being directly told a story, it does work fantastically in fitting with the shots and themes that are being covered at certain points during the film.
Also, the score helps to relate to the overall theme in this film. It looks at the natural world and humanity within it, and, after having watched this, I think that narration would have ruined the atmosphere that’s created by the brilliant score, which is a stunning mix of serene melodies and even more haunting music.
Finally, you’ve got to look at the story that you get out of this film, despite it seeming totally unconnected. Some of the shots show you the terror of humanity’s role in the world, while other show you its genius and beauty, and that all comes together in the end as a really strong assessment of the human race, which I was particularly impressed by considering the fact that everything in this film is completely implicit.
Overall, then, this gets an 8.0, because it is so genius and beautiful to watch, with a fantastic message that comes out of it, however it is definitely very tough to watch, get interested in and understand, and may not work so well if you’re not in the right mindset.