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DVD Review: SAMSARA (BLU-RAY)



Studio: MPI
Year: 2011
Cast: Various
Director: Ron Fricke
Release Date: January 08, 2013
Rating: PG-13 for (some disturbing and sexual images)
Run Time: 01h:42m:05s
Genre(s): documentary

SAMSARA (BLU-RAY)

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Filmmaker Ron Fricke has a heck of a great track record when it comes to unique films like this, so I imagine this is more of the same enthralling, gorgeous imagery that serves as a stay-at-home trip around the world.

Movie Grade: A

DVD Grade: A+

Filmmaker Ron Fricke turned the documentary genre on its head with 1985ís Chronos, a film shot specifically for the IMAX format. He followed that with 1992ís Baraka, featuring similar, spectacular 70mm images of various people and places from across the globe that again was lauded for its daring, dialogue-free technique. 20 years later, Fricke and his long-time collaborator, producer Mark Magidson are at it again, with 2011ís Samsara. Fortunately, nothing has changed, stylistically, but this time Fricke presents his sensational, often- haunting images in a way that seems to tell even more of a story than before, yet still remaining without a single line of dialogue. MPIís reference-quality Blu-ray disc gives us Samsara in a way that could only have been bested by being there for each and every incredible shot that Fricke captured on that magical camera of his.

The film kicks right off with one of the creepiest dance sequences Iíve ever seen. Iím not sure if itís the massive amount of makeup they have on or not, but at certain angles, the dancers (at least the one in the middle) appear to be wearing a paper mask. From there we go right to dreary, yet gorgeous footage of a volcano erupting, and the wonderful contrast in themes is officially underway in Samsara. Itís this constant, instant transition from light to dark that makes the film so memorable, as any given scene can consist of wonderful images of the best things this world has to offer, but then Fricke will follow it up with a stark image of a skyscraper that almost appears to be staring at us in the most threatening of ways.

Following the aforementioned volcano eruption, things remain rather subdued for the next 30 minutes or soÖuntil ďitĒ happens and weíre treated to one of the most amazing, surreal, insane displays of horror that Iíve seen in quite some time. The sequence starts off totally harmless as a man in a suit and tie sits calmly at his desk. He then starts applying what looks like a cosmetic mud mask to his face, and soon his entire face is covered. Iíll leave the rest of this for you to discover, but good luck focusing on the rest of Samsaraís imagery, as not only will this sequence haunt you going forward, but youíll spend days actually questioning what it is, exactly, that you witnessed during this scant few minutes.

The insane video presentation here is enough to shoot Samsara to the top of my list of home theater demo discs. Itís no surprise that Baraka is the disc itíll be replacing, as Samsara was also shot in 70mm, mastered at 4k, and presented in 1080p. The clear, exquisitely detailed images simply canít be topped, with bright, vivid colors that virtually explode off of the screen. Youíre just not going to find such a flawless, beautiful, overall video presentation like this very often, if at all. The audio is a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix that is also reference- quality and nearly as impressive as the video. Again, thereís no dialogue to blend into the mix, but all that does is allow us to revel in the wide variety of bombastic world music, which the track broadcasts with a great deal of depth, wide dynamic range, and an aggressive, immersive bass presence.

The extras include a 49-minute behind-the-scenes piece where director Ron Fricke discusses the filmís vision and the main thematic difference between Samsara and Baraka. In this piece, we also get a look at the technical aspects involved in putting such a stunning film together, and making it look so incredible. Thereís also a pair of trailers for Samsara, one an ďInternet TeaserĒ and the other the filmís ďTheatrical Trailer.Ē

Posted by: Chuck Aliaga - February 9, 2013, 2:37 pm - DVD Review
Keywords: sensory, wonders, spirituality




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