Starring: A lot of random people from around the world
You may like this if you liked: Baraka (Ron Fricke, 1992) Home (Yann Arthus-Bertrand, 2009), War Requiem (Derek Jarman, 1989)
A purely visual film with no spoken dialogue, Samsara (meaning ‘continuous flow’) combines a juxtaposition of images from various locations around the world. This includes sacred grounds, industrial zones, prisons, areas of natural wonder and beauty and disaster zones.
I have read in other reviews that Samsara has no narrative; I would strongly disagree with that. Every film for a start has a ‘narrative’, but Samsara has a clear narrative that ties in with the definition of the title. Samsara gets its unique message and meaning across very clearly. This is one of those films that you get out of it what you put in, where the experience is different for every different viewer. I, for example, have no personal connection with any of the images presented within the film so my emotional reaction to these presented images would be far different to someone that has.
The images themselves are beautifully and articulately put together, Samsara apparently took five years to make, and it is obvious why. The music is also beautiful and complements the visuals. Some may argue that the point is obvious after five minutes, so why bother with another 90 minutes? Well, there is some truth in that and I feel that for me personally as an educated westerner that Samsara did not teach or show me anything that I was not already aware of but it still had a profoundly emotional effect on me. Despite its technical details, Samsara is not a complicated film, nor does it intend to be. There is a simple message here presented in a way that avoids being patronising or preachy. This is why the non dialogue nature is so effective; the audience is treated with the upmost respect in that they are left to draw their own conclusions and opinions from what is being presented.
I know this will be a film that does not appeal to more people that it actually will appeal to, that is a shame as anyone who gave it a chance would feel some effect from it, whether it be on a conscience or subconscious level. As I stated earlier, this is one of those films where the viewer gets out of it as much as they put in, and what is presented is actually an engrossing and emotionally satisfying experience for anyone who is willing to give up 100 minutes of their life. So, whoever is reading this, I recommend giving it a try, you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.