In Terrence Malick’s film “The Tree of Life” there is a twenty minute sequence that depicts the birth of the world, the Big Bang Theory; it is breath-taking and the only reason to see the movie. Ron Frick and Mark Magidson’s “Samsara” is a glorious extravaganza, a homage to the universe through the eyes of imposing, innovative geniuses. Wordlessly, we travel through 25 countries, accompanied by the haunting sound track of Michael Stearns, Lisa Gerrard and Marcello De Francicisci; hypnotically, we tramp through temples, fly over the formidable dunes of Namibia, interrupt monks at prayer; marvel at the disparity between wealth and poverty in the third world; mourn the devastation left in the wake of hurricane “Katrina”; dance with the limbered, beautifully, intentionally- deformed hands of Indonesian beauties; see the frenetic processing plants in Japan and China: watch the fascinating evolution from life, death, to the markets, of livestock, robotically accomplished by thousands of anonymous factory workers; crawl through the detritus, garbage with the rag -pickers in India.
The unrelenting pace, dizzying speed in which Fricke and Magidson touch upon all religions; the manufacture of guns and bullets; nature and man working in tandem and against each other; unblinking individuals, indistinguishable from sculptural artifacts, gifts the viewer a roller- coaster ride of exhilarating, exhausting magnitude; witnessing visual, sensual, incredulous pageantry.
It is daunting to choose a resonating scene, they are all meaningful, mesmerizing, memory-binding; but seeing the “inmates” performing in perfect harmony; a pristine Frenchman transform himself from mundane to monster; a single tear descending the luminous cheek of an Asian angel; vast, cinematic landscapes referencing God’s and man’s omnipotence, magnificence; leaving one with a sense of peace, grace, wonder and awe that filmmakers, taking seven years, have produced a tour de force; unquestionable eminence, destined to reign permanently, in the hierarchy of film masterpieces.