‘Samsara’, a Sanskrit word which means “the ever turning wheel of life”. Samsara (2011) is a unique non-narrative documentary with vibrant visuals and musical artistry depicting the livelihood of twenty five countries in today’s context.
Samsara transports viewers to an unconventional perspective of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial sites, and natural wonders. It touches a wide spectrum of interconnected areas of society – culture, religion, tradition, industrialization, food system, politics, wars, nature, poverty, family and other taboo topics.
The documentary is an hour and forty minutes long and has neither dialogue nor descriptive narration – an unorthodox approach to storytelling that subverts viewers’ traditional documentary expectation.
The visuals and music are the infusion of the ancients with the modern that contain intriguing messages of depth which encourage viewers to indulge in own interpretations.
The perspective of industrialization and food system of the film gives viewers a macro view of the capitalist economic system whereby the relationship between the demand and supply are allowed to dictate the free-market of goods and services.
The film uncovers the industrial mass production of goods and services from the electronics to food. It dictates to viewers on how the system works at the micro level – activities involving the production, processing, transport and consumption of goods; while at the macro level, the system includes the governance and economics of production, its sustainability, the degree of wastage, and how the production affects the natural environment.
It highlights the harm capitalism has brought to the society and the planet – issues of how food affects health and well-being, including nutrition, obesity and food safety; policy concerning food system in less developed countries where hunger and malnutrition exist; and the links between food and sustainable development.
As a close, the appreciation of the unconventional method of storytelling in the documentary film requires certain maturity from viewers. The concept may appear simple but the messages have depth that leaves viewers to decipher and interpret this unique piece of work.
About the Film
Samsara (2011) was filmed over a period of almost five years, directed by Ron Fricke and produced by Mark Magidson, who also collaborated on Baraka (1992), a film of a similar concept.
SAMSARA was photographed entirely in 70mm film utilizing both standard frame rates and with a motion control time-lapse camera designed specifically for this project. This camera system allows perspective shifts to reveal extraordinary views of ordinary scenes. The images were then transferred through the highest resolution scanning process available to the new 4K digital projection format that allows for mesmerizing images of unprecedented clarity. SAMSARA will be a showpiece for the new, high-resolution 4K digital projection, the HD format, as well as standard digital and film projection.
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Sidebar: About Capitalism
Capitalism is said to have created a better standard of living for more people. It enabled anyone who has capital to organize and create something of value to offer to the public, thus empowering the people who are born poor to create opportunities to surpass their class statuses if there are demands for what they produced.
This lead to mass production which enables the lower class people to gain access to a variety of goods and services previously only available to the upper classes. Unfortunately, the system is rigged with corporate interests controlling the government and money. The downside of the capitalism has produced a variety of negative effects on the society and the planet.
By the beginning of the 21st century, capitalism had become the pervasive economic system worldwide. Did you know? The capitalist economic system has evolved through a series of phases from the Agrarian capitalism, mercantile capitalism, the industrial capitalism, monopoly capitalism, colonialism, welfare capitalism, mass production, state capitalism, corporatism, to the current financial capitalism.