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Baraka (Special Edition) (1993)

Director: Ron Fricke, Ron Fricke
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: MPI Home Video
Genre: Documentary, Nature & Science , Religion, Experimental/Avant-Garde
Languages: English

Named after a Sufi word that translates roughly as "breath of life" or "blessing," Baraka is Ron Fricke's impressive follow-up to Godfrey Reggio's non-verbal documentary film Koyaanisqatsi. Fricke was cinematographer and collaborator on Reggio's film, and for Baraka he struck out on his own to polish and expand the photographic techniques used on Koyaanisqatsi. The result is a tour-de-force in 70mm: a cinematic "guided meditation" (Fricke's own description) shot in 24 countries on six continents over a 14-month period that unites religious ritual, the phenomena of nature, and man's own destructive powers into a web of moving images. Fricke's camera ranges, in meditative slow motion or bewildering time-lapse, over the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the Ryoan-Ji temple in Kyoto, Lake Natron in Tanzania, burning oil fields in Kuwait, the smoldering precipice of an active volcano, a busy subway terminal, tribal celebrations of the Masai in Kenya, chanting monks in the Dip Tse Chok Ling monastery...and on and on, through locales across the globe. To execute the film's time-lapse sequences, Fricke had a special camera built that combined time-lapse photography with perfectly controlled movements of the camera. In one evening sequence a desert sky turns black, and the stars roll by, as the camera moves slowly forward under the trees. The feeling is like that of viewing the universe through a powerful telescope: that we are indeed on a tiny orb hurtling through a star-filled void. The film is complemented by the hybrid world-music of Michael Stearns. ~ Anthony Reed, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Ratings

Baraka (Special Edition) (1993)
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7.47 (224 votes)
Baraka (Special Edition) (Bonus Disc) (1993)
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7.67 (3 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

Experiment #1 by bakedpotato December 22, 2004 - 6:28 PM PST
2 out of 5 members found this review helpful
What's that?
Not for everyone, you say?
Thank god I'm not everyone.

Time for bakedpotato experiment #1. Let's put the theory into practice, shall we? The next time you meet someone and aren't sure if you want them to be your new acquaintance/friend/lover, pop in this film, smoke that Marley size jibba you've been saving for a special occasion and watch your partner's reaction.

Bored and antsy? Run, run away as fast as you can.
Solemn, yet confused? Rent them the Qatsi trilogy.
Likens the experience to a religious epiphany? Friends forever.
Starts crying at how beautiful life can be? I think I'm in love ... - 5 Leaves

Counting Breaths (Zen reviews Baraka) by ZButler October 21, 2004 - 7:40 AM PDT
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
A film, that on the onset appeared to be something I'd see in one of those earthy, culturally mixed gift shops. You know the ones, complete with Native American art with New Age crystals and other western attempts at aspiring eastern spirituality, all on the same shelf. As it unwound, I was drawn into the images and a musical force that I am very familiar with; Michael Stearns. Michael Stearns has collaborated with my all time favorite composer of sound, Steve Roach. Stearns, is not some fluffy Yanni-esque composer but is one that, for the most part captures the spirit of the music, sounds and culture he mimics. The music fit well with some very astonishing images of our world, our Earth. Baraka is a poem to mankind. With no cues, or indication of where we actually are in the film, Baraka urges us, without words, to seek out, learn and ultimately love ourselves as a whole or suffocate and parish within our own hate and ignorance. The Dolby Digital mix is blistering and my twin subs attacked and rumbled my flat floor with synthesized low drones fused with various chants of the east. A highlight is what appeared to be some call and response chant in Bali with male tribe members. To the typical cynic, a pretty generic, random world-peace riff. To me, who can be a cynic at times bought in to it. Baraka is a nice art piece, a song to humanity. I felt Baraka made its' point and then overplayed a bit though. And like so many well-meaning new age pieces of various forms, it tends to ramble in its' thoughts, thus diluting the impact. A worthwhile journey but I found it a bit circular in its' attempts.

Beautiful and Moving by evilcupcakes June 10, 2004 - 5:15 PM PDT
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
When I first saw Baraka with some friends of mine, we immediately started the DVD over as soon as it was finished and watch the whole thing again. I love this movie, although it may not be for everyone's taste as it can be a bit on the pretentious side. I'm not going to compare this film to Koyaanisqatsi, even though that's an easy comparison to make. This film focus far more on humanity, spirituality, and has some of the most moving footage I have ever seen. I disagree with the reviewer who said the soundtrack wasn't as good as Koyaanisqatsi. Philip Glass is amazing, but this soundtrack is far more organic sounding and compliments the footage very well. Some of the scenes can be quite slow- I mean really there is only so much footage of a rock you can take before you fall into a coma- but the film redeems itself in short order with something powerful and breathtaking around every corner. I highly recommend this film.

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