Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ron Fricke|
|Produced by||Mark Magidson|
|Written by||Constantine Nicholas
|Music by||Michael Stearns, Dead Can Dance|
|Distributed by||The Samuel Goldwyn Company|
|Release date(s)||September 24, 1993|
|Running time||96 minutes|
Baraka is a 1992 non-narrative documentary film directed by Ron Fricke. The film is often compared to Koyaanisqatsi, the first of the Qatsi films by Godfrey Reggio for which Fricke was cinematographer. Baraka was the first film in over twenty years to be photographed in the 70mm Todd-AO format, and the first film ever to be restored and scanned at 8K resolution.
Baraka is a documentary film with no narrative or voice-over. It explores themes via a kaleidoscopic compilation of natural events, life, human activities and technological phenomena shot in 24 countries on six continents over a 14-month period.
The film is Ron Fricke’s follow-up to Godfrey Reggio’s similar non-verbal documentary film Koyaanisqatsi. Fricke was cinematographer and collaborator on Reggio’s film, and for Baraka he struck out on his own to polish and expand the photographic techniques used on Koyaanisqatsi. Shot in 70mm, it includes a mixture of photographic styles including slow motion and time-lapse. To execute the film’s time-lapse sequences, Fricke had a special camera built that combined time-lapse photography with perfectly controlled movements.
Locations featured include the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the Ryoan temple in Kyoto, Lake Natron in Tanzania, burning oil fields in Kuwait, the smouldering precipice of an active volcano, a busy subway terminal, tribal celebrations of the Masai in Kenya, and chanting monks in the Dip Tse Chok Ling monastery.
The film features a number of long tracking shots through various settings, including Auschwitz and Tuol Sleng, over photos of the people involved, past skulls stacked in a room, to a spread of bones. It suggests a universal cultural perspective: a shot of an elaborate tattoo on a bathing Japanese yakuza precedes a view of tribal paint.
The score by Michael Stearns and featuring music by Dead Can Dance, L. Subramaniam, Ciro Hurtado, Inkuyo, Brother and David Hykes, is noticeably different from the minimalist one provided by Philip Glass for Koyaanisqatsi. The film was produced by Mark Magidson, who also produced and directed the film Toward the Within, a live concert performance by Dead Can Dance.
Following previous DVD releases, in 2007 the original 65 mm negative was re-scanned at 8K (a horizontal resolution of 8192 pixels) with equipment designed specifically for Baraka at FotoKem Laboratories. The automated 8K film scanner, operating continuously, took more than three weeks to finish scanning more than 150,000 frames (taking approximately 12–13 seconds to scan each frame), producing over 30 terabytes of image data in total. After a 16-month digital intermediate process, including a 96 kHz/24 bit audio remaster by Stearns for the DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack of the film, the result was re-released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in October 2008. Project supervisor Andrew Oran says this remastered Baraka is "arguably the highest quality DVD that's ever been made". Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert describes the Blu-ray release as "the finest video disc I have ever viewed or ever imagined."
A sequel to Baraka, Samsara, made by the same filmmakers, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011 and released internationally in August 2012. Also shot in 70mm, Samsara explores an arguably darker, updated version of many of the same themes as Baraka.
The movie was filmed at 152 locations in 23 countries. Some locations include: Nepal, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Ecuador, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Israel, Kenya, Kuwait, Nepal, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, United States and Vatican City.
- Egypt: Cairo; City of the Dead; Giza pyramid complex; Karnak Temple, Luxor; Ramesseum
- Kenya: Lake Magadi; Mara Kichwan Tembo Manyatta; Mara Rianta Manyatta; Masaai Mara
- Tanzania: Lake Natron
- Arizona: American Express, Phoenix; Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Chinle; Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson; Peabody coal mine, Black Mesa; Phoenix
- California: Big Sur; Los Angeles; Santa Cruz (Chicken Farm Scenes)
- Colorado: Mesa Verde National Park
- Hawaii: Haleakala National Park, Maui; Kona; Puʻu ʻŌʻō, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- New York: Empire State Building, Manhattan, New York City; Grand Central Terminal, Manhattan, New York City; Helmsley Building, Manhattan, New York City; McGraw-Hill Building, Manhattan, New York City; World Trade Center, Manhattan, New York City; Green Haven Correctional Facility, Beekman, New York; Stormville, New York
- Utah: Arches National Park, Moab; Canyonlands National Park, Moab
- Others: Shiprock, New Mexico; White House, Washington, D.C.; South Lake, California
- Argentina: Iguazu Falls, Misiones
- Brazil: Carajás Animal Reserve, Pará; Iguazu Falls, Paraná; Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro; Caiapó Village, Pará; Porto Velho, Rondônia; Represa Samuel, Rondônia; Rio Preto, Minas Gerais; Favela da Rocinha, São Paulo City, São Paulo
- Ecuador: Barrio Mapasingue, Guayaquil; Cementerio Ciudad Blanca; Galapagos Islands; Guayaquil
- Cambodia: Angkor Thom; Angkor Wat; Angkor; Bayon; Phnom Penh; Preah Khan; Siem Reap; Ta Proum; Tonle Omm Gate; Tuol Sleng Museum; Sonsam Kosal Killing Fields
- China: Beijing; Great Hall of the People; Tiananmen Square; Guilin; Kowloon Walled City, Kowloon, Hong Kong; Li River, Qin Shi Huang; Xi'an
- India: Calcutta, West Bengal; Chennai, Tamil Nadu; Ganges River; Ghats; Kailashnath Temple; National Museum of India, New Delhi; Vandharajan Temple, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
- Indonesia: Borobudur; Java; Candi Nandi; Candi Prambanan; Gudang Garam Cigarette Factory; Kediri; Kasunanan Palace, Surakarta; Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta; Kediri, Tabanan; Bali; Mancan Padi; Mount Bromo Valley; Tampak Siring; Tegallalang; Gunung Kawi Temple; Uluwatu
- Iran: Imam Mosque; Imam Reza shrine, Mashhad; Isfahan; Persepolis; Shah Chiragh; Shiraz
- Japan: Green Plaza Capsule Hotel; Hokke-Ji Temple; JVE Yokosuka Factory; Kyoto; Meiji Shrine; Nagano Springs; Nara; Nittaku; Ryōan-ji Temple; Sangho-ji Temple; Shinjuku Station; Tokyo; The Hachikō Exit, Shibuya Station; Tomoe Shizung & Hakutobo; Yamanouchi-Machi; Zoujou-Ji Temple
- Israel: Church of the Holy Sepulchre; Western Wall
- Kuwait: Ahmadi; Burgan Field; Jahra Road, Mitla Ridge (Farouk Abdul-Aziz researched and produced this segment)
- Nepal: Bhaktapur; Boudhanath; Durbar Square, Kathmandu; Hanuman Ghat; Himalayas; Mount Everest; Mount Thamserku; Pasupati; Swayambhu
- Saudi Arabia: Mecca
- Thailand: Ayutthaya Province; Bang Pa-ln; Bangkok; NMB Factory; Patpong; Soi Cowboy; Wat Arun; Wat Suthat
- Australia: Bathurst Island; Cocinda; Jim Jim Falls; Kakadu National Park; Kunwarde Hwarde Valley; Uluru
- Poland: Oświęcim (Auschwitz); Bytom
- France: Notre-Dame de Chartres; Notre-Dame de Reims
- Vatican City: St. Peter's Basilica
- Turkey: Hagia Sophia, Istanbul; Galata Mevlevi Temple (Both on the European side of the Bosphorus)
- Andrew Oran (2008). Baraka: "Restoration" feature documentary (DVD/Blu-ray). Magidson Films, Inc.
- Ebert, Roger (2008-10-16). "Great Movies: Baraka (1992)". Chicago Sun-Times / rogerebert.com. Archived from the original on 17 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-15.
- A complete list and interactive map of locations is available on the official Baraka web site
- "Chicken Factory Farm at the official site for Baraka and Samsara".