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Baraka

Baraka

By Patrick Samuel • August 2nd, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
BARAKA (MOVIE)
Samuel Goldwyn Company

Original release: July 16th, 1993
Running time: 93 minutes

Director: Ron Fricke
Music by: Dead Can Dance, Michael Stearns

Baraka

With so many things that occupy our lives today, ranging from technology and finance to entertainment and celebrities, we rarely seem to take the opportunity to look at our beautiful planet and recognise just how incredible it is.

The movement of clouds, the gentle way a flower blossoms or the elegance of animals. They’re all part of rich and delicate balance, a stasis, an unending cycle.

Director and cinematographer Ron Fricke captures this so beautifully in Baraka, a film that plays on contrasts. It juxtaposes the ancient with the modern, presenting us with a world that is natural and also one that relies on technology to keep it going. Baraka’s visuals are stunning and for the most part it’s like time travelling. There are places I never thought still existed today and cultures that are still thriving far away from our machined lifestyles. It’s breathtaking.

Early on in the film Fricke shows us a snow monkey sitting quietly in the Nango Springs in Japan. There are others around him, but the camera stays on him, sometimes his eyes are closed, sometimes open.

He’s in a state of bliss; his peaceful face cannot be disputed. He’s a creature existing in harmony with his surroundings.

The ancient cities and temples of India, where I imagine my ancestors are from but have never had the opportunity to visit, look the same as it probably did 3000 years ago. It’s a place untouched by time; there are no signs of modernity but it doesn’t give the impression that anything is lacking. Quite the opposite really, it seems like a place where everything you could ever need is there.

From there Fricke goes on to show us Tibetan monks meditating, Orthodox Jews at the Wailing Wall and Whirling Dervishes. Does Fricke want us to consider religion and rituals and what they give us emotionally and spiritually? He also draws our attention to body art, tattoos, face painting and tribal head wear.

Baraka

The music in Baraka is central to the story that’s being told with the visuals. Composed by Michael Stearns and Dead Can Dance, the pieces are ambient, ethereal and utterly haunting, increasing the emotional impact of what we’re watching.

As much as I am stirred by the scenes of ancient temples and misty mountains, there’s one particular segment which really stands out for me. The Host Of Seraphim. Before I had ever heard of Baraka or Dead Can Dance, it was this music video I saw late one night on Onyx and it was truly unforgettable. So much suffering, yet in the faces and actions of the people shown I see love, humility and the need to protect their young; to cover them with shelter, feed them and lighten their.

The Host Of Seraphim left a feeling in my heart I’ve carried since then. The young boy riding on a bicycle with his father could have been me with another toss of the dice. This was how I first discovered Baraka.

In a similar way to Koyaanisqatsi (1982), this wordless masterpiece leads us to ask questions about our relationship with nature and civilisations that have been here longer than our present one. It depicts us in a frantic race toward something but never questioning what it is; we just know we have to reach it. What part of ourselves we might lose in the process? And what part of the world, its history and its soul?

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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