Arts, Design, Eco Finds, Film, Kihada

SAMSARA: a World beyond Wonder

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SAMSARA_thumbnailSince the release of Ron Fricke and Mark Madigson’s film SAMSARA, you no longer need 88 days to see the world – 99 minutes will more than suffice. In that period, you’ll reach more than 25 countries and experience hundreds of global phenomena in unbelievably vivid detail. You may also discover an unexpected sense of connection to the earth’s pulses and organic flow, channeled through the magnificent flow of images and music. Weaving together the ancient and the modern, the simple and the spectacular, and an entire spectrum of poignancy, SAMSARA truly exemplifies its Sanskrit expression of “the ever-turning wheel of life”.



“[The film] was conceived as a non-verbal, guided meditation on the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth,” explains director Ron Fricke, “sculpted, produced, and directed by the power of flow. It’s when that natural flow of organic environments is interrupted by disturbing images – animals in cages, people in cages – that lack the breath of life, that [we see] the Other Side.” It’s through this flow that Fricke and producer Mark Magidson seek to link humanity and nature, revealing the wondrous symbiotic ebb and flow of their respective cycles and rhythms. By delving into the inconceivable realms of man’s spirituality and the human experience, and presenting their discoveries unfettered by dialogue or descriptive texts, they hope to inspire unique interpretations in each individual viewer.


“The hope is that the viewer comes away feeling a sense of connection,” Magidson says, “connection to the phenomena of life around the world at this time.”

While the film itself is an astonishing wonder to behold, its creation was an equally mind-blowing feat for many reasons. Over five years of filming transported Fricke and Magidson, along with associate producer JC Earle and line producer Myles Connolly, to the world’s nooks and crannies in search of diverse, visually compelling material. To each sacred ground, disaster zone, industrial site, and natural wonder the crew Sherpa-ed their 70mm camera, a custom-designed time-lapse camera, a small jib arm, 30 feet of dolly track (split into 6 sections to comply with airline regulations), and a carefully engineered support package of essential equipment. Not your average tourist luggage bound for Epupa Falls in Angola, the Thiksey Monastery of Leh, Ladakh in India, France’s Chateau de Versailles, Ninth Ward in New Orleans, or the Burmese kingdoms of Bagan!


As if trekking across the globe with film gear in tow wasn’t steep enough, the use of 70mm film required a laborious conversion process to make the material digital-ready. The production team had to scan each frame at 8k resolution, creating a massive 20 terabyte file that could then be reduced in size for the final film. Ricke and Magidson pioneered this method in the creation of BARAKA, their previous film, and its extraordinary results won the filmmakers widespread acclaim for pushing the technical and logistical envelope; consummating BAKARA’sBlu-ray marked the first successful introduction of 70mm analog quality into a digital format.

Once again, the two visionary filmmakers prove that creativity and art know no bounds – not even those apparently axiomatic to technology. Their fearless pursuit of concept to completion demonstrates exactly the kind of devotion Kihada stands for – the unabashed daring to think outside the box. SAMSARA defies the typical expectations of traditional documentary and delivers instead a tour de force of unprecedented conception, connection, and contemplation. Accompanied by a rich landscape of music composed by Michael Stearns, Lisa Gerrard, and Marcello De Francisci, the film is destined to transport its audience to places never seen before.


SAMSARA is showing in select theatres across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. For complete listings, see the official website. As always, keep an eye on Kihada for more film and movie updates!



Written by Alison,

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