I mentioned Samsara a few weeks ago, after we watched a trailer for it in our weekly creative meeting at work. We managed to get a load of tickets to a screening at the Curzon Soho this week, so off we went!
As you can guess from the trailer, it's a visual feast which predominantly uses montage (made up of highly detailed and lush 70mm footage - with some compositions strongly reminiscent of Andreas Gursky) to create a loose narrative. It works very well with strong use of juxtapositions. Life and death through various factory production lines; cows turning into beef and milk, chickens hoovered up and turned into plastic packs of thighs, electronics being formed by banks of people repeating the same motion over and over, guns and bullets being assembled by the crate load. Then other images of incredible vistas; temples in Asia surrounded by seas of long green grass, windswept deserts (reminiscent of Lean's Arabia) and a hypnotic timelapse of Muslims swarming around the Kaaba.
It's hard to call out any stand out moments as each individual 'scene' has the ability to blow your mind, but outside of the incredible vistas, it was the scene of a performance artist using copious amounts of clay to cover his face which was tonally the most standout - a 'character' piece and very dark. The dance sequence in the prison was captivating, showing male and female prisoners nonchalantly watch their cohabitants dance with verve, passion and joy.
Having Lisa Gerrard working as one of the composers of the soundtrack makes for a formidable accomplice in creating a soundtrack as epic as the images.
In summary, a quite hypnotic film which fills you with wonderful images that you most likely have never seen, nor even aware of. Ultimately it does a sterling job of connecting the dots that inhabit this planet.
Official synposis "Expanding on the themes they developed in Baraka (1992) and Chronos (1985), Samsara explores the wonders of our world from the mundane to the miraculous, looking into the unfathomable reaches of man’s spirituality and the human experience. Neither a traditional documentary nor a travelogue, Samsara takes the form of a nonverbal, guided meditation."