Time feels to have slowed and the island of Manhattan is eerily quiet. There is a slight humming in my ears but I can differentiate it from the constant noise of the city. We just left a private screening of Samsara, a new film by director Ron Fricke, written and produced by Mark Magidson, the same visionaries behind 1992’s award-winning Baraka. Like Baraka, Samsara tells its story using only moving images (shot on stunning 70mm film) cut to an original score. There are no actors nor any dialogue whatsoever, and no special effects.
“Samsāra” is a Sanskrit term meaning “continuous flow,” specifically in regards to the repeating cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth (reincarnation) within a handful of Eastern religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Yoga, Sikhism, etc). The mission was to capture and sequence footage from around the globe (25 countries to be precise) to demonstrate these themes. The result after watching, is that “continuous flow” feeling, palpable and present in the world outside the theater, for hours after the credits rolled. The Samsara experience is intoxicating, regardless of that THC lozenge (made in California) I popped at the film’s onset. Mission accomplished.
One of the ways Samsara differs from Baraka is through its necessary dark passage, which is death—a central theme within the “ever turning wheel of life.” Without any dialogue or voice-over, we are left to our own interpretations of the images we are seeing, influenced only by the order in which they are shown, and the perceived mood of the score.
Watch the above interview with Samsara Director Ron Fricke and producer Mark Magidson about the concept and intent of Samsara, and the process of creating the film. See more videos on the Samsara Vimeo page. Read the official synopsis and get theater listings. Go ahead and experience it, just be prepared to leave in a trance. And that humming in your ears? Apparently that’s the rhythm of the planet. Yeah.