Baraka

Directed by Ron Fricke
  • USA
  • 96 minutes

20TH ANNIVERSARY RELEASE

Words can’t do justice to the visual masterpiece that is “Baraka,” a smashingly edited, superbly scored, wild world tour that speaks volumes about the planet without uttering a word.

Journeying through urban jungles and civilised savagery in 24 countries, director Ron Fricke offers us a “breath of life,” or baraka (an ancient Middle Eastern Sufi word that translates as a blessing or as the breath/essence of life).

Real-life snippets filmed in far-flung places (like Tanzania, Kuwait, Iran and Nepal) are seamlessly interwoven, from intriguing “monkey chant” ceremonies in Bali to confining “sleep capsules” in Tokyo.

Most are images you have never seen before. The images stun the viewer with the planet’s vast diversity. A time-lapse subway sequence is an ideal example of the filmmakers’ imaginative manipulation, as is a camera that occasionally lingers on curious or hard-boiled faces.

Fricke (a cinematographer on Godfrey Reggio’s incredible Koyaanisqatsi)’s lightning fast editing also slips in tough images, such as fluffy baby chicks in a poultry factory, without moralizing.

Without a conventional narrative but with stunning images that speak for themselves, Baraka is an educational trip. - Suzan Ayscough, Variety