Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Baraka

Reviews - Baraka


Reviewed By Stephen Pye

Few of us who went to Rheged on Sunday Evening would disagree with the somewhat immodest statement by the producer of "Baraka" Mark Magidson that this was "the ultimate non-verbal film in the ultimate non-verbal format". It was a feast for the eyes if not the ears! The film painstakingly
restored from its 1992 version and scanned at 8k needed and merited the Rheged screen; it was sumptuous. Filmed in 24 countries over a 14 month period at a cost, then, of 4 million it certainly had the power to take the breath away.

The monkey sat in the thermal pool somewhere amidst snow-capped peaks seemingly contemplating the heavens was my highlight, closely followed by the cremation pyres by the Ganges: strangely irenic. "Baraka" (Persian for breath) is a celebration of both the accomplishments and pristine beauty of the untouched world, and the necessary balance between the two we must strike.

Its director Ron Fricke described the aim of his film, somewhat portentously, as... "helping us to see and feel in our flesh that the healing of self and the healing of the planet are inextricably linked". Fricke was very concerned with environmental degradation and human overpopulation in 1992 and so the film feels ever more prescient now.

If I can voice maybe a trite criticism, an aside almost considering the myriad beauty of the film, it would be that almost everything religious in it could be labelled "good" whilst everything scientific might be labelled "bad". This is a minor criticism though, as the religion portrayed was always mystical and transcendent and thereby felt appropriate and meaningful within the overall context of the film.

It was a moving experience even if I did miss about 10 minutes as the biomass boiler at Rheged was on overdrive and I fortunately fell asleep when the battery chickens were meeting their inevitable demise.

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Best Programme 2005
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