Dusting Off... Baraka
What is it?
First released in 1992, Baraka is quite simply one of the most unique films you will ever see. Directed by Ron Fricke, the man who 10 years earlier provided cinematography for the stunning Koyaanisqatsi with Godfrey Reggio and composer Philip Glass, Baraka is a documentary with no dialogue, no actors and no interviews. Instead, it is a documentary in the purest sense of the word; a wordless and visually staggering depiction of some of the world's most unique, bizarre and beautiful sights.
Filmed in 25 countries on six continents, Fricke's film essentially a visual account of one day on Earth, from sunrise to sunset, throughout which the viewer is presented with a mind-blowing array of visual spectacles, from the prayer rituals of remote tribes to the inner workings of mass-production food factories.
Shot on 70mm film and using a variety of techniques from slow-motion to time-lapse photography, Baraka presents not only a stunning visual journey through the more unusual phenomena of the natural world, but also a stark account of the effects of humanity's evolving civilisation on our fragile ecosystem, presenting what amounts to a universal perspective of the world's colourful spectrum of different cultures, customs and history, man-made or natural, from the tattoos burning oil fields of Kuwait, through the bizarre tattoos of the Japanese Yakuza to the mass graves of Auschwitz.
Why should I revisit?
If the idea of a 96-minute documentary with no dialogue or plot seems daunting, don't worry – within five minutes you will be so absorbed by the sheer visual spectacle in front of you that none of that will matter. Ron Fricke is undoubtedly one of the world's most unique and brilliant cinematographers and besides his other works like Chronos and Samsara, there really is nothing else quite like this in existence.
Who will enjoy it?
If you've watched the films from Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi series and found yourself wondering 'where can I find more films that look this good?', then look no further. Even if you're just a fan of David Attenborough's brilliant nature documentaries and you're new to Fricke's work, you'll absolutely love this film.