Samsara | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


A compendium of beautiful footage compiled for your contemplations

In 1992, Ron Fricke directed Baraka, a sublime collage of documentary footage and time-lapse photography from around the world. The filmmaker has now made a sequel to that "guided meditation on humanity." Despite that billing, Samsara is a most unguided meditation. With no narration or narrative, it's hard to know what you should be feeling other than awe. For more than five years, Fricke shot footage in 25 countries — of sand dunes, erupting volcanoes, intricate dances and factory production lines — before crafting it into the sort of epic imagery that reminds you why you go to the cinema in the first place. His film encourages your mind to wander and to wonder. Mostly about life, death, nature, art, excess, poverty, civilization — you know, stuff. If there is a prevailing message, I missed it. Perhaps that's because throughout Samsara, I kept recalling that quote from American Beauty: "Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can't take it."