Baraka (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byRon Fricke
Written by
  • Constantine Nicholas
  • Genevieve Nicholas
Produced byMark Magidson
CinematographyRon Fricke
Edited by
  • Ron Fricke
  • Mark Magidson
  • David Aubrey
Music byMichael Stearns
Magidson Films
Distributed byThe Samuel Goldwyn Company
Release date
  • September 24, 1992 (1992-09-24)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2 million
Box office$1.3 million[1]

Baraka is a 1992 American 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 served as cinematographer.[2] It was photographed in the 70 mm Todd-AO format, and is the first film ever to be restored and scanned at 8K resolution.[3][4]


Baraka is a documentary film with no narrative or voice-over. It explores themes via a 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 named after the Islamic concept of baraka, meaning blessing, essence or breath.[5][4]

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 70 mm, it includes a mixture of photographic styles including slow motion and time-lapse. Two camera systems were used to achieve this. A Todd-AO system was used to shoot conventional frame rates, but to execute the film's time-lapse sequences Fricke had a special camera built that combined time-lapse photography with perfectly controlled movements.[6]

Locations featured include the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the Ryōan temple in Kyoto, Lake Natron in Tanzania, burning oil fields in Kuwait, the smouldering precipice of an active volcano, a busy subway terminal, the aircraft boneyard of Davis–Monthan Air Force Base, tribal celebrations of the Maasai 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.


Following previous DVD releases, in 2007 the original 65 mm negative was rescanned at 8K resolution 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 twelve to thirteen seconds to scan each frame), producing over thirty 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, the result was re-released on DVD and Blu-ray in October 2008. At the time, project supervisor Andrew Oran described the reissue of Baraka as "arguably the highest-quality DVD that's ever been made".[7] Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert described the Blu-ray release as "the finest video disc I have ever viewed or ever imagined."[4]


A sequel to Baraka, Samsara, also shot in 70 mm and made by the same filmmakers, premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and was released internationally in August 2012.[8][9][10]


Baraka holds a score of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes out of twenty-six reviews.[2] Roger Ebert included the film in his "Great Movies" list, writing: "If man sends another Voyager to the distant stars and it can carry only one film on board, that film might be Baraka."[4]



The score is by Michael Stearns and features music by, among others, Dead Can Dance, L. Subramaniam, Ciro Hurtado, Inkuyo, Brother, Anugama & Sebastiano and David Hykes.

In 2019, German composer Mathias Rehfeldt released the concept album Baraka, inspired by the film.[11]


The project was shot in 152 locations in 24 countries.[12]


United States[edit]

South America[edit]




See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Baraka (1993)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Baraka". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 7 February 2008.
  3. ^ "Baraka". Spirit of Baraka. Archived from the original on May 23, 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Ebert, Roger (16 October 2008). "Great Movies: Baraka (1992)". Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  5. ^ Hinson, Hal (27 October 1993). "'Baraka'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  6. ^ "A Conversation with Mark Magidson and Ron Fricke". Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  7. ^ Oran, Andrew (2008). Baraka: "Restoration" feature documentary (DVD/Blu-ray). Magidson Films, Inc.
  8. ^ "About Samsara". Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  9. ^ "Toronto film festival 2011: the full programme". The Guardian. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  10. ^ Johnston, Trevor (28 August 2012). "Samsara". Time Out Worldwide. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  11. ^ "Baraka". CD Baby. Retrieved 2 December 2019.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Baraka Filming Locations". Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  13. ^ "Chicken factory farm, Santa Cruz, CA". 30 November 2011. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  14. ^ "La Ciudad Blanca (The White City) Cemetery, Guayaquil, Ecuador". Spirit of Baraka. Retrieved 7 February 2018.

External links[edit]