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Baraka (1992)Baraka (1992)

           If you didn't see writer-director Ron Fricke's film Samsara (2012), this predecessor from twenty years earlier is a fine substitute that's available on Netflix. Both films are "non-verbal documentaries" that offer ninety minutes of stunning images. There's no narration or script; the only sounds are a haunting music sound track and the sounds emanating from what's being filmed — a waterfall, a rain forest, a traditional African dance, etc. The images cluster around several themes. Many come from nature, like volcanoes, animals, mountains, and the night sky. Others are explicitly religious, like Buddhist monks, Orthodox Jews, Muslim women, and Catholic priests. Then there are various scenes of our human interaction with the world, like cave paintings, African village life, garbage pickers, industrial food production, strip mining, logging, the homeless, etc. Both films use time lapse photography to good effect, and in both films Fricke traveled to two dozen countries for filming.

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