(out of 5)

Twenty years after his mind-blowing Baraka, Ron Fricke takes his cameras back out into the world to make more observations of humanity, nature and the complicated intertwining of the two. This time he also takes advantage of industry improvements since his previous film, with Samsara shot using the latest in digital technology. The result is more of the same, though this time the commentary isn’t quite as organized or instructive as it was in the previous venture. Fricke’s images seem to be randomly compiled, and then when statements are made they are so blatant (images of food production, which were done better in Our Daily Bread, followed by human obesity, etc) that they are banal. There’s also a disturbing slant towards the “exotic”, with the assumption of a white, middle-class, western audience for the film pitting the film’s visual emphasis on the eastern world (among the rare times he visits North America he focuses on white trash gun culture). It’s not nearly as profound as it wants to be, but I hate to harp at a project involving this incredible amount of effort, and the images truly are dazzling: among them endless oceans of desert sand, Thai dancers in vivid multi-hued makeup, and vast arrays of Chinese production lines (which were done to better effect in Manufactured Landscapes).

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USA, 2011

Directed by

Concept and treatment by Ron Fricke,

Cinematography by Ron Fricke

Produced by Mark Magidson

Music by , ,

Film Editing by Ron Fricke, Mark Magidson

Toronto International Film Festival 2011

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