Saturday, September 1, 2012
There are many exquisite images in the trancelike “Samsara,” as well as several that are highly unpleasant to view, but what keeps the movie from the level of, say, Godfrey Reggio’s “Qatsi” trilogy is the nagging sense that director Ron Fricke lacks trust in his visuals and feels the need to stage poses and performance-art acts to make banal points, mostly about consumerism. (One sequence in particular chapped my hide: we get five minutes of footage from slaughterhouses where chickens, cows and pigs are made into meat, followed immediately by video of American fatties chowing down on Extra Value Meals and being marked up for liposuction. Fricke obviously believes in showing how the proverbial sausage is made, but this seems more like easy point-scoring than commenting meaningfully on modern life.) Still, when “Samsara” is showing and not telling, some of what we see is breathtaking to behold, a stirring and stunning homage to the painstaking pursuits of man and the creation of icons that may last for eons or be blown away with the sand.