SAMSARA: A View of Our World, Shot in 5 Years, 25 Countries and 5 Continents

A powerful non verbal film that shows us the state of our world. 

In the day and age of information overload, it’s not uncommon that our brains shut down when we are overwhelmed with data. Statistics about how many people are dying from malnutrition, what percentage of our food we waste, how many parts per million of CO2 our atmosphere can sustain; at some point, we can only take in so much.

But then there is the power of visuals and music; two forces that can tell a story and pass along an idea without words.

If you have seen films like Koyaanisqatsi or BARAKA you know exactly the power that non verbal filmmaking can have. SAMSARA, the new movie from director-producer Ron Fricke and writer-producer Mark Magidson (BARAKA and CHRONOS) which opens on August 24, 2012 is exactly that, a beautiful, and at times somber, compilation of visuals that showcases the world that we live in and leaves us to make our own conclusions.

Filmed over a period of five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, and shot on 70mm film, SAMSARA transports you to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders. The result is breathtaking.

“We’re trying to stay away from a real strong point of view. It’s a real fine line to walk with editorializing and having strong opinions. We’re trying not to interrupt that flow… where you guide the viewer through those locations and through that subject matter,” says Magidson.

Although it results in a strong cultural critique, SAMSARA, a Sanskrit word that means “the ever turning wheel of life,” is first and foremost about imagery that fits the film’s name, as Magidson puts it, “birth, death and re-birth.” That imagery is intended to allow the viewer to connect with what they see; focus not on facts or numbers but simply on a place and a feeling.

“Because it’s all non fiction imagery there is an essence and power that is hopefully captured in the imagery. You need to feel the totality of that when you’re finished watching that. Find how that connects together in a way you didn’t imagine,” says Magidson.

The intent is less about politics and more about emotion, encouraging the viewer to come to their own conclusions. “It’s not doing a documentary about food processing… we just try to show how all of this is interconnected,” says Fricke.

In this case, less is more, and the ultimate impact comes from the essence of what the viewer sees, not necessarily just the subject of what they are watching.

“In an abstract way, you are providing what you hope is a moving emotional experience… regardless if you are commenting on it in an intellectual way. A lot of people feel a sense of compassion. That is a pathway to a more activist reaction potentially. We’re not trying to say what people should do.. we’re trying to provide a strong profound feeling state,” says Magidson.

Learn more about the film and screenings near you here

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.