A new sensory sensation has entered UK cinemas in the form of the visually stunning, non-verbal documentary Samsara by director Ron Fricke. It’s magical, striking and tranquil, but will that be to everyone’s liking?
Though many press releases will use the same phrase, Samsara is truly a sensory experience. Neither music doc nor travel doc it hovers in the middle of all things beautiful. We might not be able to touch, smell or feel – we can see and hear all the more.
Shot over a period of five years and visiting no less than twenty-five countries on five continents, the film will take you to the most weird and wonderful places in the world, places so beautiful you never knew they existed. You will see monks creating the most detailed sand painting, prayers at the ancient Ka’aba in Mecca, exploding volcanoes, flowing waterfalls and growing trees in faraway forests; rhythm is key, repetition emphasises – no shot is a mere postcard picture.
Perhaps it will frighten off the ‘less experienced’ film goer, dispensing with text or narration was a brilliant move as it lets the viewer focus on the visual wonders of the world, finding out for ourselves what we as individuals truly admire. This was also the filmmakers’ goal, to create a film, a tool as it were, that encourages the viewer to contemplate what a strange and beautiful place the world actually is. As Mark Magidson (producer, co-editor, co-writer) said: “I love that the film speaks past individual languages and nationalities in a universal way, with just images and music that doesn’t need translating… I think on some level we want to feel a deep connection to each other and the life experience beyond those barriers.” A global film on a global tour – globalisation is, after all, not just the distribution of Coca Cola, but also the distribution of beauty, knowledge and understanding.
Though Samsara might not be a film about spirituality, spiritual it is. As said, the lack of narration and the tranquillity provided by the beautiful musical underscore will ensure you are left with a feeling of peace and completion. Please, go see it for yourself, you will not be disappointed.