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Visit biografmuseet.dk about Danish cinemas


"Samsara" is a Triumph of the Moving Image
I strongly urge you to see it

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Mark Lyndon, London, UK Date: 01.01.2012
Behind the scenes of filming "Samsara". Mark Magidson (right) and Ron Fricke filming with Panavision's 65mm camera in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles castle outside Paris, France. Image by Magidson Films Inc.

The traditional dictionary definition of Samsara is: Samsāra (Sanskrit: संसार), (in Tibetan called "khorwa", literally meaning "continuous flow", is the cycle of birth, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikkhism.

Mark Magidson and Ron Fricke documentary film makers extraordinaire, or at least their publicity department, has now offered a new definition:

“Samsara is a nonverbal, guided meditation that will transform viewers around the world as they are swept along on a journey of the soul.”

Moreover: “Through powerful images pristinely photographed in 70mm and a dynamic music score, the film illuminates the links between humanity and the rest of the nature, showing how our life cycle mirrors the rhythm of the planet.”

Back in the roaring twenties, the western world was first made aware of The Fire Sermon, in Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland” Fricke and Madgison presents a graphic and powerful illustration of The Buddha’s Fire Sermon at the beginning of "Samsara", in the eruption of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii.

Pursuing Buddhistic themes, we are shown potent and compelling images of birth and death: the face of Tollund Man, a cadaver from the early iron age in Denmark, perfectly preserved in the peat. Contrasted with an intimate portrait of an embryo in late development: the Kanikwe Coffin shop in Accra, followed by the funeral of a man in his prime, lovingly placed in one of its many exotic products – a gun shaped coffin.
More in 70mm reading:

"Samsara" Cast & Credits
(in progress)

Carl Davis Interview

Kevin Brownlow Interview

Arrow Films is releasing "Samsara" in the United Kingdom.

Life is celebrated in the tender portrait of a parent embracing an infant, seen through the window of a hovel in the grim surroundings of the Paraisopolis Favela in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The Buddhist doctrine of the First Noble truth of Suffering is shown searingly in an unflinching portrait of the terrible war injuries of US Army Veteran Staff Sergeant Henline, in a perfectly made up Kikumaru Geisha shedding a solitary tear, in a stunning display of dehumanization by performance artist Olivier de Sagazan, in the hardships endured by the sulphur miners of Kaweh, Indonesia.

Had they but world enough, and time, Fricke and Magidson would, I suspect, reveal a spiral galaxy in motion. In "Samsara", they present a time lapse sequence closer to home, the circumambulation of Haj pilgrims around the K’abah, the holiest shrine in Islam. The result, a moving image of haunting and breathtaking beauty.

Fricke and Magidson display more achingly glorious images of places of worship: Notre Dame and the Saint Chapelle in Paris, Reims Cathedral, Saint Peter’s in Rome, The Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul and the Thiksey Monastery in Ladakh, which features what must surely be the best depiction of the construction and final destruction of a Mandala, the definitive symbol of impermanence in Buddhism.

It would have been wonderful to have seen a pristine 70mm print of this masterpiece. However, "Samsara" merits the widest possible distribution. "Samsara" is a triumph of the moving image, I strongly urge you to see it.

On a more technical note and in case they cannot be caught, the credit sequence at the end will reveal that: All "Samsara" images were photographed entirely on 65mm film, digitally oversampled at 8k Ultra High Resolution, and mastered for 4k Digital Cinema release. The rolling stock was 65mm Kodak Vision. The soundtrack is in Dolby 7.1 Surround in selected theatres. 65mm services were by the excellent Fotokem laboratories, a name familiar to regular readers of in70mm.com.
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Updated 21-01-24