This is a special reward available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 a month levels. Each month those patrons will get to pick a film for me to review. They also get to include some of their own thoughts about the movie, if they choose. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.
Written by Constantine Nicholas and Genevieve Nicholas
Directed by Ron Fricke
When Seth told me that his brother had selected a movie to be reviewed, I wasn’t surprised. The shocker came that he had chosen me to do it, and as the title was given, for a brief moment, I thought my brother-in-law was forcing me to watch a movie about Barack Obama because he wanted to test me.
Luckily, I was wrong, but still, a little perplexed as Seth further explained it to me. I am not a cinephile. I’m just a woman who likes what she likes.
The word Baraka is a Sufi word meaning “blessing” or “essence of life.” Made in 1992, it is a wordless film threaded scene by scene. If you come in not knowing or unprepared, you might think you’re watching a long beginning of a possible adventure movie. No narrator. No actors. Just the world as a setting for you to absorb. The movie was filmed for 13 months in 24 countries at over 150 locations, made in high resolution, one of the first films released in that format.
It can make you feel tiny, a realization that this world is far more expansive. Although we have all this information about humans and the world at our fingertips, it would never be the same as experiencing it yourself in vivid color. Other parts of the world feel and look impossibly alien to our own. Living in a western obsessed world, you forget there is much more to see or absorb.
There are images of religion, men praying or singing and moving in unison—their sounds and breaths as one. A heavy exhale done together releases all despair and tension only to be thrown into the hectic movement of the city and work life. Whenever the film exposes city life, human life feels small, as if the city is a concrete lung that exhales us out into the streets, onto trains.
People are no longer moving for themselves but for consumption. Labor. It’s dismissal at times. The flick of a wrist tosses baby chickens down into the unknown, same as the bird’s eye view of humans moving from one place to another. Lost for a few seconds are the images of tribal natives of the Brazilian forest, who some say the Amazon (not Bezo’s monster) is the planet’s lungs.
We are self-destructive of the planet despite the worship found within it.
Baraka feels a lot like meditation when you’re asked after cooling breathes to let the anxiety slip in and for you to analyze it. Turn it over, look at it with clearer eyes only to feel it squeeze your throat because the movement is too fast. You go back to what grounds you.
It moves you into a loop, lulls you back into gentleness with the beautiful imagery that is crisp and clean. Except you’re back, in this reality, unable to reach or connect to what is natural and good.