TIFF 2011: ‘Samsara’ is not to be missed

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Samsara

Directed by Ron Fricke

Written by Ron Fricke & Mark Magidson

USA, 2011

Covering TIFF has been a privilege for many reasons, but particularly for the opportunity to screen Ron Fricke’s awe-inspiring Samsara. The follow-up to 1992’s breathtaking Baraka, Fricke surpasses even that great film with an effort that can only be described in superlatives, and with what sounds like hyperbole, but isn’t. Like Baraka before it, Samasra is something akin to a human-centric, arthouse Planet Earth, surveying the globe in a series of astonishing, dialogue-free, 70mm vistas, and underscored by a mixture of traditional instrumental and choral music. Fricke further demonstrates his mastery of time-lapse imagery, a technique that invests even familiar sights – say a helicopter shot of an L.A. freeway – with a hypnotic, organic rhythm. That Samsara is instantly one of the most visually-stunning films in the history of cinema is reason enough to cherish it, but Fricke and co-editor Mark Magidson achieve truly profound juxtapositions, brimming with meaning and emotion. It sounds preposterous, but it’s true: In 99 minutes, Samsara achieves something approaching a comprehensive portrait of the totality of human experience. If you’re even remotely fond of being alive, Samsara is not to be missed.

Jullian Carrington

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 8th to the 18th. Tickets, schedules, and other information can be found on the festival’s website.

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