I met Fricke and Magidson when a restored version of “Baraka” was shown at Ebertfest, and I felt like traveling the world and recording these images was kind of their calling. Some of these places, structures, people and practices will not last forever, and if one day this planet becomes barren and lifeless, these films could show visitors what was here.
“Samsara” can also suggest some of the ways he was lost. Although the documentary features time-lapse footage of city traffic and unseemly mechanical haste, for me the most unforgettable sequence is not of breathtaking views or natural beauty, but of chickens in a processing plant. food.
They are “treated” with such efficiency. After spending their entire lives feeding locked in cages too small for them to turn around, they suddenly find themselves on a slippery stainless steel slope that relentlessly feeds them in a mechanical process that in seconds beheads them, strips them of feathers. and the skin, and cut them into pieces. Chickens never seem very smart, but we can see the alarm in their behavior because this process is obvious to them.
Now why should I dwell on such a sequence, which is probably largely responsible for the movie’s PG-13 rating? Because I experienced it as a cry of terror. In this ancient and miraculous world, where such beautiful natural and living things have evolved, something has gone wrong when life itself is used as a manufacturing process. I’ve read that in 50 years we need to be on a largely vegetarian diet or die, and forgive me if I take that as good news. Something is out of balance, and “Samsara” is looking at the sides of the equation.
I’m afraid I haven’t communicated how uplifting the film is. In his big sweep, the chickens play a small part. If you see it as a trance movie, meditation, head trip, or whatever, it can make you more grateful for what we have here. It’s a rather noble film.