When you’re talking about documentaries built around epic scale photography and a lot of time lapsing, Koyaanisqatsi and its Qatsi cousins speak in booming, serious tones. Baraka is a peaceful meditation on our relationship with the world through technology, religion and the environment. Directed by Ron Fricke, the director of photography on Koyaanisqatsi, a man who considers himself an expert on “humanity’s relationship to the eternal”, it features incredible vistas, haunting music, whirling Dervishes, Balinese monks, and Snow Monkeys floating in their Japanese hot springs – it is a beautiful film, simply sublime. The kind of filmmaker that someone like Tarsem Singh aspires to be, Ron Fricke is.
Shot in 70mm, double the size of traditional film stock, I recommend you see it in high definition to take full advantage of the footage shot in over 24 countries over the course of 20 years. Roger Ebert describes the blu-ray as the finest video disc he has ever viewed or ever imagined. I consider it closely related to Microcosmos, but only because I used to watch them as a double feature at the local theatre where we’d trip the light fantastic on the upper balcony. And unlike Microcosmos, that makes use of little bits of poetry throughout, nary a word is spoken in Baraka. But don’t let that keep you from chatting a little when you’re watching it, unlike me who sat awestruck when I saw it for the first time on DVD.
Ron Fricke is apparently in the process of making a sequel to Baraka, called Samsara. It’s being shot on large format film as well, with cameras that Fricke and his crew built themselves. It will apparently be released in 2011.
Question: Have you seen Baraka? Do you have any favourites that are anything like it?