Friday 14 December 2012

"Baraka" (The Guardian 14/12/12)

Baraka (PG) 92 mins ***

Twenty years before this August’s Samsara, cinematographer-turned-director Ron Fricke set out on this practically identical hippy-trippy odyssey, sourcing documentary footage of rituals from various points on the globe. Fricke was evidently going through a Far Eastern phase back in 1992, and so carefully raked Zen gardens and Hindi funeral rites come to be contrasted with scenes of deforestation (boo!) and sky-blackening oilfields (hiss!). Again, one is left weighing the dense, stirring beauty of these images with the crushing banality of what’s actually being expressed through them: the vaguest of we-are-the-world sentiments, further muffled by chanting or Incantation-style panpipes on the soundtrack. It can’t fail to dazzle in the newly rediscovered 70mm format, but it now seems more than ever like the next evolution of those VHS tapes of fishtanks once sold to calm stressed executives. The only reaction permitted is gawping. 

Baraka returns to selected cinemas from today.

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