Inspiration of Baraka

Some of you (OK well, maybe just a few of you) already know I'm gearing up to head to Israel next week. I'll be visiting my father, who is a scholar on sabbatical there.One of the movies I always like to watch before I head to another country with my camera is the 1992 film Baraka. My parents have been National Geographic subscribers since before I was born, so as I grew up I developed a tremendous amount of respect for the photojournalistic style of photography that I came to admire through that magazine: the style that portrays the colors, textures, and emotions of us as a human race.Baraka does the same, only it's not just about the human race; the film might as well be a love song to human civilization. The director/cinematographer, Ron Fricke, traveled to 24 different countries (including Israel, I might add...a complete list of places in the film is here) to film common aspects of human life, including religion, dance, work, poverty, and more. He filmed it in on large format (70mm!) and when it debuted on IMAX it received high critical acclaim. Let me just say that Fricke must have the patience of a saint---the footage he produces is mind-blowing, and I have little to no idea as to how he acquired much of it.Don't get me wrong---this is not a high-octane blockbuster, or even a nature special. There is no narration and no titles, so much of what is shown blends into one amazing work of art that is simply rife with natural and humanistic beauty, and symbolism. You may not find it at your local video store, but it you appreciate intense cinematography WITHOUT special effects, you'll love this and want to pick it up from Amazon or somewhere. The stuff Fricke does with time-lapse is eye-popping.I was quite thrilled to recently learn that Fricke is finally developing a sequel to Baraka. He photographed the similarly-styled trilogy known as the Qatsi triology, but they are directed by someone else and while equally artistic, do not hold that breath-taking element that I'd always found Baraka to have. I can't wait to see the next one.Here's a clip I found on YouTube that's probably one of the most interesting parts of the movie. Sadly, without narration or titles, much of the cultural features in the film may remain a mystery to some viewers, though I think anything can be researched online nowadays. I was fortunate enough to discover what this clip is about due to a World Music class I took in college:This is a traditional dance called the "ketjak," (monkey chant) performed in Bali. It depicts a scene from the Hindu epic "Ramayana" in which a monkey army comes to protagonist Prince Rama's aid against the evil King Ravana.
I suppose it's a little weird if you're used to Discovery Channel specials with narration, or if you're not used to Discovery Channel-type stuff at all, but I absolutely love this kind of thing. I simply adore culture.Here's another clip that probably better illustrates the film:You may recognize Tokyo in this one!