movie reviews (omadhaun47) wrote,
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omadhaun47

Baraka (1992) - ****

Directed by Ron Fricke.

Synopsis- Not quite a travelogue, but basically a wordless documentary of sorts that brings us around the globe. There is no narration or any dialogue of any sort, nor even any characters. It's all images and music. But it goes through 24 countries, including India, Japan, Egypt, Africa, the Philippines, Cambodia, Ecuador, Poland, Thailand, etc.

Music- The music was done by Michael Stearns, who is someone I'd never heard of. While listening to it, however, I noticed some music that sounded familiar stylistically... Dead Can Dance, and David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir. And in the ending credits, they were listed. Dead Can Dance features Lisa Gerrard, who was the co-composer with Hans Zimmer for Gladiator, and she also did such films as Whale Rider, etc. Very distinctive. And the Harmonic Choir is Tuvan throat singing, but with very unusual arrangements (as though Tuvan throat singing can get any MORE unusual). But aside from that, Stearns composed all of it, and maybe even composed their bits and just had them perform, who knows. But he combined all kinds of instruments from all of these places into his compositions. My favorite was the piece that was playing as they flew over the burning Kuwaiti oil fields. It featured bagpipes, Japanese taiko drums, and some kind of Indian or Polynesian horn. Which is insane, of course, but somehow fit perfectly.

Other- Since there was no acting, I put "other". This movie was shot entirely in 70mm film, which, if you know anything about film, is about as good as you can get, especially for this kind of thing. The movie is in widescreen 70mm whether you like it or not. Vivid color, high resolution. Needless to say, it's beautiful.

However, I thought Baraka lacked one thing. Throughout the entire movie, you have no idea where you are, unless you have a pretty damn solid background in cultural studies of some sort. I had a pretty good idea through about 80% of it, but then again I'm obsessed with this kind of thing, and I'd have no excuse not to know. Other people probably wouldn't. Ron Fricke said something like, "It's not about where you are, but what's there." That's all fine and good, but to me, personally, without context it all lacks. And the cultures are what interest me, not our "interconnectedness with Earth" or whatever. I mean sure, that too, but I'd rather learn something. So my complaint is that there's no director commentary. That's the only thing that keeps this from getting five stars from me. I would have loved to listen to a director's commentary with some background on these countries and some stories of their experiences.

Aside from that, I highly recommend this movie to ANYONE who has the patience to sit through it.
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