Like Chronos and Baraka, Samsara shows us the hustle and bustle of humanity.
SAMSARA (Ron Fricke). 102 minutes. Opens Friday (October 5). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNN
I can't fault Ron Fricke for making the movies he wants to make. The problem is, they're all the same movie.
Having helped define the epic non-narrative global documentary model as a cinematographer and editor on Geoffrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi three decades ago, Fricke struck out on his own with the 1985 short Chronos and the 1992 feature Baraka - the latter shot in 70mm for maximum visual impact. And now there's Samsara, another large-format doc that picks up where Baraka left off.
Shot once again in 70mm - but playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in a 4K digital presentation - the new doc is exactly the same as Chronos and Baraka. Fricke travels around the world with a really large camera, capturing awe-inspiring images of the Earth's spectacular beauty and the hustle and bustle of humanity. (For, you know, contrast.)
It's lovely to look at, and the musical score - with contributions from Lisa Gerrard, Michael Stearns and Marcello de Francisci - strings everything together smoothly. But Fricke isn't saying anything he wasn't saying two or even three decades ago, and Samsara's slow pace lets you think about the way Reggio used his own follow-up projects, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi, to expand upon and reconsider the themes he and Fricke raised in Koyaanisqatsi.
Fricke's content to keep on trucking.