on 19 February 2016
SAMSARA/BARAKA  [2 Film Double Disc Collection] [Blu-ray] A World Beyond Worlds! Unlike Anything You Will Ever See! A Truly Special Cinematic Experience!
From the creators of the award-winning film BARAKA, Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson, comes a new non-verbal masterpiece. Filmed over a five-year period in 25 countries across five continents, SAMSARA transports us via stunning Super Panavision 70 cinematography to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders. By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, SAMSARA subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary. It encourages our own interpretations, inspired by breath-taking images that infuse the ancient with the modern and set against a mesmerizing musical score featuring the work of Lisa Gerrard, Michael Stearns and Marcello De Francisci.
BARAKA: A challenge, a warning, a gift, a blessing. In the ancient Sufi language, ‘BARAKA’ translates as ‘the thread that weaves life together’. In the pantheon of modern cinema, it remains one of the most unique and acclaimed motion picture events of our time. Shot in breath-taking 70mm in 24 countries on six continents, ‘BARAKA’ is a transcendent global tour that explores the sights and sounds of the human condition like nothing you’ve ever seen or felt before. These are the wonders of a world without words, viewed through man and nature’s own prisms of symmetry, savagery, chaos and harmony.
SAMSARA Cast: Balinese Tari Legong Dancers, Ni Made Megahadi Pratiwi, Puti Sri Candra Dewi, Putu Dinda Pratika, Marcos Luna, Hiroshi Ishiguro, Olivier De Sagazan, Ladyboys of Cascade Bar, Kikumaru, Crisanto Neire, Robert Henline, Tai Lihua and Collin Alfredo St. Dic
Director: Ron Fricke
Producer: Mark Magidson
Screenplay: Ron Fricke, Mark Magidson, Bob Green, Constantine Nicholas and Genevieve Nicholas
Composers: Lisa Gerrard, Marcello de Francisci and Michael Stearns
Cinematography: Ron Fricke
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 [Todd-AO 70mm] and 2.21:1 [Super Panavision 70]
Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD Audio, 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo
Running Time: 102 minutes and 97 minutes
Region: Region 2/B
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Arrow Films
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘SAMSARA’ is an enthralling documentary that becomes a guided meditation on the wheel of life and death. The Sanskrit word “Samsara” refers to the wheel of life, the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. The term also embraces journeying in Buddhism and Hinduism. Both meanings are evident in this enthralling non-narrative documentary from director Ron Fricke and producer Mark Magidson.
Ron Fricke and producer Mark Magidson were the creative forces behind the extraordinary 1992 documentary ‘BARAKA,’ an unforgettable collection of snapshots from the global family album. With breath-taking cinematography and mesmerizing music, that film enabled us to see with our eyes and feel in our flesh the shared distress of Earth and humankind, so that we understood that that the healing of self and the healing of the planet are inextricably linked. Startling and beguiling images portrayed the vastness and variety of nature, city life, sacred sites, and religious rituals. We have seen Baraka many times over the years, and every viewing expands our awareness of the world and enables us to widen the circle of our compassion.
The same spiritual emphases are evident in ‘SAMSARA’ which was shot over the course of five years in twenty-five countries on five continents. The filmmakers take us on a quest to a greater understanding and appreciation of the human condition and a reverence for the beauty and power of the natural world. And they help us face up to worldwide suffering, poverty, greed, violence, lust, and adoration of war and financial success. In the midst of suffering and death, we discover that there are paths to rebirth or human transformation. With great respect for all the world's religions, the filmmakers deliver lavish and visually compelling images of devotional practices and rituals of Tibetan Buddhists, Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
Experiencing ‘SAMSARA,’ we are challenged to leave behind our passive and isolated role of spectators and to step into the incredible energy streams of the wheel of life. For each of us, in our own way, is caught up in the cycles of life, death, and rebirth. And our journeys are connected to those of the people on the screen: we are rich and poor, happy and sad, hurried and at peace, open to change and locked in service to authoritarian leaders, filled with lust and dutifully spinning prayer wheels, searching for security and coming to terms with impermanence. ‘SAMSARA’ shows us in no uncertain terms that the movements of creation and dissolution never stop.
‘SAMSARA’ is not only a visual masterwork; it also has an incredible musical score by Michael Stearns, Lisa Gerrard, and Marcello de Francisci comprised of many different types of devotional music, religious and spiritual chants, and meditative orchestrations. With its guided meditations, its visual variety and beauty, its spiritual and religious messages, its celebration of the natural world, its critique of war and all the factors that fuel hatred and violence, and its subtle efforts to help us see our oneness with the human family and the whole of creations, ‘SAMSARA’ is in itself a profound spiritual experience. It was one of the best films released in 2012; it is a film you will treasure for all your life.
With the ‘BARAKA’ film, you get a collection of expertly photographed scenes of human life, religion and especially with a montage of photographed images telling, “The story of our planet, and human interaction within it.” ‘BARAKA’ is a word from the Sufi language and means 'breath of life.' Filmed in 24 countries, including Tanzania, China, Brazil, Japan, Kuwait, Cambodia, Iran and Nepal and on all 6 continents, who via producer Mark Magidson and director Ron Fricke, show us the beauty of nature and the fate of people in unique images without dialogues. This audio-visual journey takes the viewer to the mystery of life and the spirit of nature, especially with this extraordinary non-narrative film that enables us to see with our eyes and feel in our flesh that the healing of self and the healing of the planet are inextricably linked.
‘BARAKA’ is the most ambitious and astonishing film of the year and a real spellbinder! The title is taken from a Sufi word meaning "blessing" or "essence of life." With its breath-taking cinematography and mesmerizing music, Baraka delivers an unforgettable collection of snapshots from the global family album. Startling, powerful, and moving images portray the vastness and variety of nature, city life, sacred sites, rituals, and the shared distress of earth and humankind. The images are carried into our consciousness and connected to our feelings by the soul-stirring music and sound collages of composer Michael Stearns.
The filmmakers have captured a compelling record of dramatic and spiritual moments as well as other scenes which give us pause to wonder about the fate of the planet and its creatures. All filmmaking techniques are used to great effect in "Baraka", from the judicious use of slow-motion to time-lapse photography that captures the beauty in nature that occurs too slowly to be appreciated by the human eye. The subtle camera movements used are elegant, adding to the mesmerizing quality of the images presented, preserving the scope of the panoramic vistas. ‘BARAKA’ has no story and no dialogue, but somehow, it manages to deliver a sensual experience that you will find unforgettable and is a celebration of the triumph and challenges of mankind.
Blu-ray Video Quality – With both ‘SAMSARA’ and ‘BARAKA’ films you get a magnificent 1080p encoded perfect picture quality, with a definite reference level, with an equally impressive 2.39:1 [Todd-AO 70mm] and 2.21:1 [Super Panavision 70] aspect ratios throughout both films, so experiencing razor sharp and very detailed picture quality. It also has a balanced contrast ratio with consistently deep black value. You also experience very strong and very natural colour reproduction. Throughout both films you get beautiful dimensional images with excellent depth effects, so giving both films full-bodied emblazoned “reference quality” to give you a quality of the highest level offered beautiful real images and offers a quality that remains practically continuously on the same high level. Which helps with the fact that you have with both films and 8K scan (the world's first scan of a film in this highest current scanning method) has certainly paid off, because the Blu-ray images has a tremendous sharpness and detail variety to offer. The contrast and colour reproduction are convincingly very well balanced and natural values and with an excellent depth effects. Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – With both ‘SAMSARA’ and ‘BARAKA’ films, you get a choice of 5.1 DTS-HD Audio and 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, which I preferred the 7.1 mix, because it gives you the sound of the highest possible sampling frequency and at its best benchmarks are achieved! It is also helped to go with the stunning images are backed only by a spherical soundscape by composer Michael Stearns and some stunning sound effects experiences. The spatial mix of music is certainly very successful in both films and especially with all five speakers is driven with great precision and clarity with a carpet of sound, in which one can experience something totally awesome! So all in all the entire audio track is incredibly spacious and enveloping. It fills the room with a broad front soundstage and quite a bit of surround activity. Subtle auditory details in the music are resolved with clarity and precision and again the music is deep and resonant, with an amazing experience all round.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
SAMSARA Special Features:
Special Feature: Behind The Scenes  [1080p] [1.78:1] [49:02] Here you get to view six individual sections relating to behind-the-scenes of the concept of the globe-hopping production, the editing process, the creation of the musical score, the technical aspects of shooting in 70mm, and the filmmakers' own thoughts about ‘SAMSARA.’ The six individual items have individual title headings and they are “the Concept;” “The Production;” “The Edit;” “The Musical Journey;” “The technical Approach” and “The Filmmakers.” You can either watch each item separately or Play All. Contributors to this documentary are Ron Fricke [Director]; Mark Magidson [Producer/Editor]; Michelle Peele [Production Coordinator]; Myles Connolly [Line Production]; J.C. Eatle [Associate Producer/Assistant Camera]; Christopher Reyna [Imaging Producer/Technical Director]; Michael Stearns [Composer]; Lisa Gerrard [Composer] and Marcello De Francisci [Composer].
Internet Teaser  [1080p] [2.21:1] [1:01] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for ‘SAMSARA.’
Theatrical Trailer  [1080p] [2.21:1] [1:36] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for ‘SAMSARA.’
Theatrical Trailer  [1080i] [1.78:1] [2:56] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for ‘BARAKA.’ Sadly the quality is very grainy and is not in its 2.21:1 [Super Panavision 70] aspect ratio, which is a shame, as the presentation is totally awe inspiring and stunning.
BARAKA Special Features:
Special Feature: BARAKA: A Closer Look  [1080p] [1.78:1] [76:00] This very interesting documentary about the making of 'BARAKA.' Director Ron Fricke discusses his previous work on 'Koyaanisqatsi' and 'Chronos' and explains the differences between shooting in IMAX and shooting in 70mm. Also covered are the logistics of the film's international shoot, which entailed scheduling days to film, based on the lunar cycle and how they were able to contact a number of government officials to get the permits to film, which is a standard operating procedure to get anything done in many third-world countries, but now and again they also needed to “lubricating” money to get certain permits, especially to get permission for filming in certain restricted areas. We also learn of a failed trip to Mount Everest, which ended with no usable footage being shot. We also get to view loads of behind-the-scenes of how the film was set up to shoot, also lots location film and also how the film crew reacted with the local residents in each country they filmed. All in all, pretty interesting and fascinating stuff. Contributors to this documentary are Ron Fricke [Cinematographer/Editor]; Alton Walpole [Associated Producer/Editor]; Mark Magidson [Producer]; Michael Stearns [Musical Director]; Bruce Simballa [Key Grip]; Michael Freeman [Location Coordinator]; David Aubrey [Cinematographer/Editor] and Lisa Gerrard [Chanteuse/Musical Department].
Special Feature: Restoration: Behind the Process  [1080p] [1.78:1] [7:04] This very short but fascinating feature that closely examines the restoration of the film ‘BARAKA,’ especially with the awe-inspiring experience of viewing the film as it was meant to be seen, and the process utilising to most closely replicate that experience in your home. Technicians at the FotoKem inform us the benefits of the 8K digital scan, which took three weeks to complete. Contributors to this short documentary are Mark Magidson [Producer]; Andrew Oran [Project Supervisor: FotoKem]; Christopher Reyna [Restoration Producer] and Rick Lopez [Large Format Digital Producer: FotoKem].
Theatrical Trailer  [1080p] [2.39:1] [1:02] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for ‘SAMSARA.’ It is a totally stunning presentation and especially when you get the critics saying, “Visually Breathtaking;” “Unlike Anything You Will Ever See” and “A Triumph Of The Moving Image.” Which about sums up this totally amazing thought provoking film.
Finally, if you are in the hunt to show off the full potential of your Home Cinema set up, the purchasing this SAMSARA/BARAKA  2 Film Double Blu-ray Disc Collection, then this will be the perfect package for you. Because both films are totally awe inspiring, as well as totally gorgeous and very thought-provoking, especially with the guiding hand of the professional team of Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson, who also guides us to some very unsettling images of our world, but you also get some equally wonderful beautiful images on this very delicate planet of ours, that will give you a total experience with trance-inducing imagery of the natural and manmade world. It also is very thought provoking with their more meaningful, even-handed look at humanity, its triumphs and failures, its depth and variations and universality. On top of all that, SAMSARA/BARAKA might just be the most jaw-dropping high definition you will experience, and is definitely unrivalled in clarity and mind blowing colours, to give you a visually breath-taking and provides a glimpse into the world we inhabit today. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom