Samsara (PG) 102 mins **
As cinematographer, Ron Fricke provided the astonishing widescreen imagery for 1982’s Koyaanisqatsi, an eco-doc beloved of college stoners. Now a director, Fricke slides similar footage along the Generation Game conveyor belt for this illustrated lecture, inspired by the Buddhist wheel of life. Ooh, Samsara coos, there’s a temple. Some lovely nature, there. There’s another temple. There’s some people, scrabbling like ants. And there’s a cuddly toy, left behind in the ruins of a village where some fool put their recycling bin out on the wrong day.
It’s a field day for gawpers: hard not to be struck by the painstaking craft of monks creating vibrant tableaux from grains of sand, or the performance artist who transforms himself into a living corpse with clay. Increasingly, though, the tone grows hectoring and resistible. Fricke shows us the world’s most spectacular holiday snaps as a prelude to finger-wagging: “See, pesky Westerners – you’ve made this tiny Asian woman cry. Do you feel good, conformist parasites? Well, do you?” You may need to be stoned to get through it.
Samsara is on selected release.