238 of 259 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing, beautiful, astounding . . ., December 20, 2002
By Lynn A. Sirrine "jazzylady2" (Bend, OR 97701)
The words mesmerizing, beautiful and astounding cannot begin to describe this wonderful DVD. Ron Fricke is to be commended highly for this moving work of art. I have a wide-screen HDTV and found the DVD to be much more moving than the VHS version I had seen on old TV in the past. If you have a choice--definitely go to the widescreen DVD version. The Dolby sound also was much enhanced over the previous version.
I firmly believe ALL PEOPLE should view this film at least once in their lifetime--free from all external encumbrances--this film requires your undivided attention.
All of a sudden, the world becomes a much smaller planet--one in which we all live in our own way and one in which every living being is important.
If you are prone to cry at beauty--have a box of tissues handy. If you are not prone to cry at films, have a box of tissues handy anyway. You will probably need them. This is a very moving film.
I was particularly impressed with the burning oil field scene because of the intense feeling the film created.
Viewing this film should be a requirement for living on the planet.
60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch on the largest screen you can!, September 6, 2003
By FrontPage (Baltimore, MD United States) -
And crank down the bass a little (if you have a subwoofer).
This movie gives the person with their DVD players, SUV and well- paying job to see something in this world that the viewer most likely has not seen, which is an intimate look at cultures, environments and nature the world over. With no concern of SARS or an expensive plane ticket, you feel afterwards that you truly experienced a global tour.
Baraka begins at a rather cautious pace, and as each scene passes by your vision, the intensity and depth slowly but steadily increases. It's a bit hard to describe, but I feel in a way that it causes the viewer to look inward at his/her own view of what the world is about and what life means. In a way, it compells you to ask yourself some deep questions. Make sure to keep your attention on watching the movie with NO interruptions to get the full effect. Pausing for phone calls, snacks or bathroom breaks is verboten, so get everything done first!
Baraka unfolds in the early morning and as the film passes through the first 10 minutes or so, you see examples of different beliefs and religions mixed with clips of nature. Eventually the two collide. And by the end, you're amazed at the solar eclipse and lunar starfields. Yet Ron Fricke's intent wasn't to make any statement at all.
There are elements of almost every type mixed into the film from peaceful co- existance to conflict (no graphic footage, don't worry), faith, technology, beauty and struggle. In some ways you may feel helpless after watching the slow decay/destruction of the world at the hands of mankind, yet Fricke also inserts visions which somehow reassure that nature ultimately holds the key to the fate of human beings since she is infinitely more powerful (and is much more patient).
If you get the chance, sample Baraka (a national video rental place has it on stock in special interest, so you can take a peek at it), and you'll more than likely want to own this. The majority of filming is either in slow motion or in time lapse, with not a single word spoken. Fricke and Mark Madigson developed some camera and dolly techniques that created the smoothest time lapse photography available, and some of the filming they've done you may recognize in some commercials or even movies.
NOTE, this is for the earlier MPI version DVD (DVD7060), which is somewhat similar in content, and the never version claims a new 70mm transfer and digitally- remastered audio. One thing I noticed that wasn't noted in the specs on the Collector's Edition is they didn't mention a full screen version; the older DVD is double- sided, one for the widescreen and the other for pan & scan.
Other suggestions: Koyaanisqatsi (deals mainly with the industrial cultures, cinematography by Fricke, 1983), Chronos (by Fricke, 40 minutes, 1985 which has music a little dated, but the film techniques are similar) and Powaqqatsi (1988). Of these, Baraka is best, IMHO.
Tidbit: There was also a coffee table book with images from scenery in Baraka.
67 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best movie I've ever bought, January 10, 2003
By Chad Loder "cloder" (Lomita, CA USA) -
This is an incredible, serious, and beautiful film. The imagery is astounding and often thought-provoking. The music is also great and matches the film very well -- if you like Peter Gabriel's "Passion" (the instrumental soundtrack to The Last Temptation of Christ), you will like the score for Baraka.
I disagree with the reviewer who said that Baraka is just an imitation of Koyaanisqatsi. If you'd bother to read the credits, Ron Fricke (the creator of Baraka) was also responsible for ALL of the filming for the -qatsi trilogy (which includes Koyaanisqatsi). Baraka is a different kind of movie, with a different, more subtly communicated message.
Baraka was shot in the (very expensive) 70mm format, which yields a very high quality picture, especially when transferred to DVD. Ron Fricke is a master of the 70mm format, and he actually designed many of the camera rigs used in Baraka (including the very high quality time lapse footage). Give Fricke some credit for having learned something in the almost 10 years since Koyaanisqatsi was filmed.
If you are expecting vapid, New Age eye candy, this is not the movie for you. If you want a beautiful film that will change you, a film that you can watch again every 6 months without getting tired of it, then buy this DVD. I have the original DVD (very hapy with it), so I can't say whether the film transfer quality in the Collector's Edition is on par. Maybe one of these days I'll buy the Collector's Edition and see which one I like best.
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was speechless., April 12, 1999
Baraka is a profound statement about humanity and our relationship with this world, both disturbing and enlightening. The film contrasts the havoc that we wreck in modern day against the peaceful existence of more primitive times. No other film has ever conveyed the diversity of our world as well as Baraka. Ron Fricke masterfully frames each and every sequence to create suspense and tell a story with no dialogue. I can only imagine he has put his heart and soul into the film in order to achieve the fantastic images. Combined with a soundtrack that is painstakingly constructed to match the film's mood, I was amazed that a wordless film could evoke such emotion in the viewer. One of my favorite movies -- I was deep in thought for many days after having seen it. It is unfortunate to see this movie on video -- it belongs definitively on the 70 mm screen.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No script, plot, or story; but it's about everything, September 26, 1999
By A Customer
This is not some new-age ambient music video, it's an extremely intense video essay for those who are susceptible to the visual/audible language of the filmmakers. However, if you want to see a film once and know what it was about and what it all meant this probably isn't a film you'll like. I've seen this film probably seven times at a local repertory theater, in 70mm (the last surviving copy) and each time I thought I understood more, but walked away with more questions, about the film as well as the world it depicts. I'm tempted to mention some of the sequences that are especially vivid in my mind but I think you should see it without preconceptions. What stands out for my friends is different from what I came away with. Rest assured that the filmmakers went all over the world, into all manner of urban and rural environments, to get the footage for this film. I haven't seen the video (as opposed to the film) yet -- I would say if you get it, try to watch it on a very big screen at least the first time. In the dark. Without interruption.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The message of this movie is not "opaque"!!!, August 21, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Baraka [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Watching this movie resembles meditating, with the filmmaker supplying the images of a mystical vision welling up from the entire audience's subconscious. I agree with the reviewer who said the views of more "primitive" societies were perhaps unrealistically positive in contrast with the perhaps overly negative portrayal of industrialized societies, but I have never seen a movie which so authentically focussed on the intelligence of native societies. Do we really need a movie to tell us that there are some good things about our society, and some bad things about less modern ones? Doesn't everyone already know that??? I think this film strives to shake us out of our daily reality where we already make those assumptions subconsciously.
I think the filmmaker is challenging the audience to try to reconcile industrialism with environmentalism--he wants us to start creating a new way of thinking, and it's absolutely brilliant that he doesn't need a single word to make that argument. I appreciate the filmmaker's faith in the audience to see correctly and feel deeply if given the chance.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and Mind Boggling..., May 8, 2001
By joe buck (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Baraka (DVD)
This is one of the greatest films of all time. When I say films, I mean "films" as it isn't really a movie. Shot on 70mm in 24 countries around the world, the visuals in this are absolutely out of this world. Complimented by the stirring soundtrack of Michael Stearns, every time I watch this film, it raises the deepest emotions from inside.
It's message is simple - that every man and woman on this Earth are striving for something more, through religion, war, ceremony, class, etc..., we are searching long and hard. As well, this film is unforgiving in the assessment of our failures along the way.
The most beautiful image in my mind is that of a family riding on a scooter with the sun glittering behind them as they calmly go about their business. All of this is amplified by a stirring track by Lisa Gerard (Dead Can Dance) that finally dissolves into a haunting Japanese dance.
The director, Ron Fricke, I believe ironically enough worked in some degree on the set of Apocalypse Now with Francis Ford Coppola. This would explain his expert use of 70mm in capturing this great piece of work...
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No plot. No dialogue. Just beauty., October 4, 2008
By M. C. Austin "moviemaus" (Ossining, NY USA) -
BARAKA is a beautiful travelogue directed by Ron Fricke, the cinematographer of KOYAANISQATSI. It is similar, but superior, to KOYAANISQATSI and its sequels, largely because it doesn't have quite as much of a political axe to grind, and because it is not designed to highlight the music of Philip Glass.
Instead, BARAKA is a profound, moving experience. I guarantee you will find in it at least a half-dozen moments of pure wonder, and probably many more. You will also see images of things you've never seen before, or even imagined. BARAKA explores natural wonders, religious practices, and humans in harmony and in conflict with nature and themselves. In many ways it remains me of the PLANET EARTH series, but focused on humanity, and with no narration.
BARAKA contains scenes of great beauty, great ugliness, and great humor. It is also a spiritual meditation, and I make it a point to watch this movie every Easter season, even though it is not particularly Christian in its outlook.
Buy it. Watch it on the best movie system you or your friends own. You will certainly enjoy this film. What I can't say is whether this new DVD release is superior to the old one, which is no longer in print.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Watchers, July 9, 2000
By "bivas" (Calcutta, West Bengal India) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Baraka (DVD)
I bought the VHS version of this film first, but I have an old VCR and seeing the quality of the film, I had to buy the DVD, it was amazing.
The film is totally based on live shots, taken at appropriate times. The camera work is excellent, which is just rightly complimented by the amazing music in this film. It is a more of a journey, than just a two hour watch.
The deep philosophy enrooted is really enlightening. As time goes by happiness turns to suffering, then the circle restores, the cruelty and the suffering now, the damage we cause, all would change. We only just watch and watch as time flows by.
Seeing this film one would be touched by the amount of damage we have caused to our planet, and to ourselves.
The beginning symbolically shows the origin of man, watching. The film shows ethnic tribes in the exotic places around the world, our cities, our ruins, our future.
A wordless film that has more meaning than the better part of the movies I have seen, and the images with stay with you for sometime, realy an experience.
28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The World where we live. A great experience., May 18, 2000
By Eduardo Middleton K. (Santiago, A.M. Chile)
It's a risk to review a video like this. You either become clichéd or sound truly naive. It doesn't matter. It's really refreshing to feel that, even though any viewer may have traveled to or watched images of some of these places, this astonishing film makes you feel that you belong to this world and, still, you don't know much about it. Sequences like those from Nepal, Bali or China will certainly encourage your need for traveling and knowing other cultures and sights. On the other hand, the video quality is superb,70 mm. looks very similar to IMAX and the music possesses your soul for 104 minutes and takes you "there" as you visit some of the most puzzling and beautiful places on earth.
If you want to enhance your DVD collection, Buy This!
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed My Life Forever, February 14, 2004
By Julie Lin "pikachulin" (Los Angeles, CA)
Watch this movie with an open mind. It's not a popcorn movie. I watched it in my house in complete darkness. It made me think about how beautiful and wonderful our planet Earth is. I'm not a religious person, however, watching the movie made me contemplate on the existence of a superior being. It also made me question my role in this modern day society. It seems like my priorities have shifted from the simple and basic pleasures of life to the unattainable material standards. It's hard to believe...but I cried three times during this movie - I didn't even cry once in Titanic.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not an imitation, December 15, 2002
By Garrett R. Kerr -
A visually stunning, beautiful sounding and very moving film about humanity, nature, religion and culture, and how they all interact. Slow, methodical, and rewarding.
It is important to note that this film is not an imiation of "Koyaanisqatsi" nor is it plagiarism, as it is sometimes labeled. Director Ron Fricke was the cinematographer, picture editor and co-writer of "Koyaanisqatsi," and when that film was completed, Fricke was disappointed with how negative the message of it was, so he set out on his own to create a film the would show positive images as well as negative ones, trying to relate a more coprehensive and objective view of man's effect on this planet.
Both films are well worth the effort of seeing. (Especially on a big screen if you ever get the chance.)
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply AMAZING, November 8, 2009
By Eric Kitchen "Frobozz" (far from America) -
This Blu-ray version is simply outstanding, incredible, breathtaking and mesmerizing. I rarely recommend people buy a film but this one is truly worth every penny. If it were $50 or more I'd buy it. You can find many stories if you like in this film or none at all. I know it sounds shallow to simply watch it for the eye/ear candy but you can do that and walk away very satisfied. The cinematography, the editing, the music, the scenery, the flow is all beyond words. This is the way this film was meant to be. I bought the first DVD version years ago and it was a sheer piece of junk. I hesitated before purchasing this because some people had praised the first DVD and it was awful. This is the way the film was meant to be shown. The care and the quality that went into the scanning can be seen from the very first frame. So many older documentaries have been converted to Blu-ray and look horrible once you've seen the BBC's Planet Earth (many older films were not even properly cleaned so you see many artifacts like cracks, dust etc). Not in this version (ok, if you look very closely I think I found a few small dust artifacts in a couple of frames but barely noticeable).
Look, stop reading. Buy it and forget about it no matter the cost. This is the film I always imagined it should be. It is truly amazing that this film was shot in 1992. It looks like a modern BBC Hi-def production. Actually it's of an even better quality. You can tell that the people who did the re-mastering spent a great deal of time and effort to make this a reality. If I could give it 6 stars, this film would get it.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Language is Indirect, February 13, 2002
By Bob Johnson (Honolulu, HI) -
The English language has one of the largest vocabularies of any language on Earth. No combination of those words can accurately portray the feeling many people get while watching this film. There are those out there who would not appreciate this quality, as there is nearly no action, plot, or words in it. But for those of you that can sit still and simply watch for a couple hours will never forget this film.
From Monkeys relaxing in Japan's hot springs to the iguanas on the shores of Galapagos to a Buddhist monk walking through Shinjuku station in Japan, there is powerful emotion brought into one's mind about the idea of life and one's concept of the world. I feel one of the themes of Baraka is the conflict of human technology and nature. But even with the the conflict and destruction that the human technology brings, you can witness its clockwork-like beauty in dense cities like New York or Hong Kong. There are other parallels between the densely populated South American cities and gravesites. The same parallel flows with Shinjuku station and the egg factory. It is a great metaphorical representation that you couldn't quite put into words. You would have to be Blake to capture Baraka's beauty and you would have to be Vonnegut to reach the level of irony and cynicism it provides the viewers with.
Baraka is a fine representation of 70mm film.
I cannot recommend it strongly enough.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great films of the 20th century, October 1, 2004
By Dick Oliver (Wilton, NH United States) -
Ron Fricke, director and photographer of this film, was also the director of photography for the more well-known classic Koyaanisqatsi. For the many people who fell in love with Koyaanisqatsi and its sequel Powaqqatsi but were disappointed with the third film of that trilogy (Naqoyquatsi), you may find as I did that Baraka is the film you were wishing for and didn't get.
Like Koyaanisqasi and Powaqqatsi, Baraka is a visual and audiory feast for the senses and soul. A journey into the sacred and the deepest truths of humanity's connection (and disconnection) with the divine and with nature. You will be immersed in the culture-defining rituals of both ancient and modern traditions, and take and extraordinary cinematic journey through 24 countries on six continents. This is the kind of film that can, in 104 minutes, permanently and deeply change your perspective on what it means to be alive on this planet today. And then change it again on the second and third viewings.
Disclaimer: Many people find films in this genre (all visual and musical, with no dialogue or "story" in the conventional Hollywood sense of the term) completely unwatchable and "boring." You certainly will be disappointed (or at least disoriented) if you are expecting a film with actors playing out a "plot." However, if you can open yourself up and give yourself over to an entirely different conception of what film as an artform can be, you may agree that Baraka, like Koyanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi, is one of the most outstanding and moving films of the 20th century--perhaps even of all time.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars for the film, not the DVD..., September 30, 2002
By A. Ort "aorto" (Youngstown, Ohio) -
I saw this film in its original 70mm glory before I had any idea what it was. Not knowing anything about made it all the more spectacular. All I was told is 'you gotta see it'.
It is a symbiosis of sound and sight in a truly unique synthesis. One without the other leaves one with a sense of absence. Yet the two together are perfect. Michael Stearns provides a soundscape that buoys music from around the world. Add to this stunning scenery and fascinating people both at play and at work from around the world and you've got a delight for the senses. You really do just have to see it.
Personally I have to watch it when I'm alone as most people I know simply think the movie to be a bit odd as it is not your traditional 'movie'. Yet it is so much more than a documentary or some kind of advertisement for the Sierra Club or something. It is truly something to be experienced.
Now for the bad news. The picture quality on the DVD is spectacular, so too the songs. However, there are some moments of rather loud static in between the songs. It sounded to me at first like the wind or part of the film but then I realized it's not. It sounds like tape hiss (and I know for certain that it isn't my sound system). Perhaps bad transfer or a bad original, I don't know, but it is almost, though not quite, distracting enough to put a damper on it.
So five stars for the film and the music, four (even three) on the DVD.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5-Star Blu-ray Video / 5-Star Nature Doc, August 14, 2009
By Adventure Fan -
I recently got a 50" plasma (panasonic G10) and a blu-ray player (panasonic 60) and I wanted to test out all the blu-rays that supposedly had the best picture quality. These nature docs have been considered some of the best.
GALAPAGOS = 4-Star Blu-Ray Video / 2-Star Nature Doc
The video is good, but not great like a pristine movie transfer like Sin City or Kung-Fu Panda. I found this nature doc particularly boring. It has a few nice bits, but there's lots of repetition of shots, and wildlife just isn't as interesting as the other docs. I would only reccomend this if you're super super super interesting in learning about Galapagos.
GANGES = 4-Star Blu-ray Video / 3-Star Nature Doc
Video quality is about the same as Galapagos, good, but there's a lot better. This nature doc is a lot more interesting than Galapagos, more magic shots, better tid bits, a more emotional experience. This is worth checking out for the content.
PLANET EARTH = 4.5-Star Blu-ray Video / 4-Star Nature Doc
This is a fantastic video transfer, better than Galapagos and Ganges. By better, I mean, richer blacks, deeper colors, sharper detail. All around, a step up. This is a four disc experience. I think they put all their best content on the first disc. Seriously, the first disc was thrilling, the others were a huge step down, in terms of locations and wildlife. Maybe it's a weird personal preference thing, but I watched the first disc three times, but could barely get through the others. I would say disc one is a must see.
BARAKA = 5-Star Blu-ray Video / 5-Star Nature Doc
This wins the Super Shiny Titanium Standard Award for best video and best nature doc. It was shot on 70mm and transfered to, like, quad-HD digital. This is one of the very best blu-rays ever made. It holds up against all new releases, because the source was 70mm. And this nature doc seemed the most magical. If you want to get a good demo disc, to show to any audience, this is the one. And the Baraka experience sticks with you. I can see myself watching this quite a few times in the years ahead, just for the experience.