Directed by Ron Fricke
Running Time: 70 mins
Baraka is a film without dialog, but instead a series of
artistic images combined with beautiful sounds and music
that celebrate life and nature.
Okay .. well, almost. The first 30-40 minutes
of the film are entrancing, as the filmmakers take you through
a visual journey including jawdropping landscapes, harmonious
tribal rituals, and mesmerizing time lapse photography that
capture the beauty of the atmosphere. The first half of
the film needs no dialog, no monologue, no narrative to
push the viewer along. The artistry succeeds well enough.
The problem is that the film switches gears.
Instead of the beautiful imagery such as in the beginning
of the film, it resorts to haunting images about industrialization
or mass consumerism. There is a brief scene in an egg incubation
plant, a scene with some Asian prostitutes, several scorched
earth scenes, and a long sequence showing European ruins.
The thesis becomes clear just as the 2nd act
begins, which is that Man has effectively destroyed nature,
and continues to do so today. This is a worthy message,
which I believe many should hear. However, it does not work
as artistic filmmaking, at least not when the bar has been
raised so high in the same film. The scenes that show the
destruction caused by man make a distinctive point, but
are almost unwatchable. It was during this point of the
film where I began yawning, and wonder when (or if) they
would to the captivating time lapse shots that reeled me
in to begin with.
I ended the film both elated and disappointed.
I recommend this film as a rental, but rather
than suffering the political statement, just turn the film
off at around the sweatshop scene.