User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 36 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 36
  2. Negative: 3 out of 36

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  1. Jul 6, 2013
    A visual and audio experience you will never forget, and a wordless meditation on life on earth in all its beauty, grandeur, and horror. Here, the images do all the talking. And if they make the Wall Street Journal uncomfortable, all the better.
  2. Apr 20, 2013
    I'm doing Samsara a disservice by comparing it to Chronos and Baraka (which the film revisits on several occasions) but also felt underwhelmed by the end; I can't help but feel that it's missing something; a mesmeric otherworldliness that Baraka had (though maybe it's the soundtrack). Still, a work like Samsara is still worlds away and more meaningful than most films.
  3. Mar 26, 2013
    This movie falls in the very select category of non-verbal films. It is not made for everyone. Most movies present a story to the viewer and the viewer has no reflection to make about the storyline until the movie is over. Samsara gives images to the viewer, but barely reflects a concrete scenario and therefore it demands that the viewer must think and make a personal interpretation of the images. In this sense, it is like a painting. When you view a painting, and especially abstract ones, you will get your own vibe from it and you might discover that those who saw it might not have had the same conclusion about its message. The same can be said about Samsara, along with the other Ron Fricke movies. Many people will look down upon those who take the time to interpret a painting and I am not surprised many critics took this movie down. Fricke's work as a cinematographer has been unsurpassed since the mid 80's. The way he presents his subject is both direct and abstract at the same time. His influence on today's cinema is perhaps one of the biggest unknown fact. Many popular directors of today have seen Fricke's work while studying cinema and took lessons whilst watching his movies. Fricke is the undisputed master of timelapse for he not only puts his camera in the right place, he also puts it at the right time and finds a way to capture deeply poetic images. I've always considered Fricke to be the heir of Stanley Kubrick in terms of cinematography. Samsara, however, lacks the athmosphere Kubrick put in his films. Baraka was able to create an obvious athmosphere. So what happened? The problem is, Samsara will often give us images of what we have seen before in Fricke's movies, which make certain scenes look like they have been patched to fill an emptyness that isn't really there in the first place. It's also a problem that Samsara is clearly "Baraka 2". Even the font used in the title is similar to Baraka's. Baraka, while capturing some images previously seen in Koyaanisqatsi and Chronos, managed to make something original nonetheless, whether it be thanks to editing or great music. Samsara is too intimately tied to Baraka, which reduce its originality. Lisa Gerrard and Michael Stearns' music sometimes seems to lack the intensity it had in Baraka as well. Overall, the vast majority flaws of this movie reside in the post production, because what Fricke was able to capture all over the world was sincere, breathtaking and inspiring. I believe Fricke wanted to do certain things in Baraka, but was limited, whether it be because of time, money or other reasons. So he made Samsara in the hopes that he could catch up on what he wanted to do initially. And he sure could do it with Samsara because he had Baraka's fame behind him. But he overestimated his ability to find originality in an already well used concept. Samsara isn't bad. Far from it. There are scenes that stand out from others. I especially enjoyed the scene of the man going through various facial transformations, an obvious critique of today's materialistic world and the cult of the image. It was unsettling, vivid and definitely marked some sort of cornerstone within the movie afterwards, it seems Samsara got better and better. I believe Fricke's next movie will be definitely different from what we have seen so far. Samsara is the extra stuff Fricke wanted to finally get done with and now that he has done it I expect him to undergo an artistic metamorphosis. My prediction is that Fricke's next movie will contain... Words. Expand
  4. Mar 26, 2013
    Saw a trailer for this on Reddit and thought to myself "Hmm, that must be something interesting." Think of this as a visual documentary film. Absolutely STUNNING shots, and there seems to be multiple messages (if you want to think of it that way) that the director and producers are trying to send. The main one that I have figured out was that we once started out as a basic society, and have evolved a ridiculous amount...Unbelievable. If you enjoy documentaries and have about 2 hours to kill, I would highly recommend this movie. Expand
  5. Mar 11, 2013
    Beautiful film. Bookending the film with the creation and destruction of the sand mandala captures the beauty of life on Earth, the fragility of all things, and the courage to continue living despite the impermanence of everything around us. This film is a journey worth taking, and everyone will have a different, albeit incredible experience.
  6. Jan 12, 2013
    Shot over 5 years in 25 countries on 65mm film stock and then scanned at 8K you can imagine this film looks absolutely incredible! There is no dialogue or story, but just a cool flow of beautiful tracking- and/or time-lapsing shots put to ambient music with perfect vocals by Lisa Girrard. Like Baraka or Koyaanisqatsi you will either be utterly borred or almost be moved to tears. A masterpiece in my book for sure :D Expand
  7. Dec 20, 2012
    My review is based on my own thoughts. Please respect my opinion, as I do respect yours.
    I have to start by saying I loved Koyaanisqatsi. On the other hand i did not like Baraka. My problem with this STUNNINGLY beautiful and very MEANINGFUL movie is that: it becomes preachy about the "western civilization" in a very negative way. Yes our "western civilization" is FAR from being perfect or
    even good. I do not like what happens in our world either!!! "We" have many problems, (and some very bad and negative tendencies we should keep an eye on, and do against these), but Ron Fricke always portrays it as overcrowded, artificial, imperialistic, bad. Ron Fricke never show the good things about it. He portrays our civilization as a doomed civilization. I sincerely hope we can CHANGE for the better. On the other hand he portrays more far away places, that are not part of that "western civilization" (Tibet, Africa etc.) in a very positive way.Of course there are no problems in these African tribes, like in our countries where millions live. I think every coin has two sides. I do recommend this movie to everyone, because it is an important movie. I hope it inspires people to think about the world, and the way we and others live! Expand
  8. Dec 2, 2012
    This was a great movie, I saw it twice just to take my other friend. Whoever these critics are need to be FIRED. This was a beautiful movie, there's couple parts that were a bit odd and a little strange. But this is a very good, well done, beautiful movie. Also all done without speaking a word. Well done.
  9. Oct 23, 2012
    This film is billed as a "guided meditation", and it really is one. If you approach it as such it's absolutely wonderful. But you have to stay with it, and like in meditation, allow your active pursuit of patterns and connections to fall away.
  10. Sep 11, 2012
    If only for the sound, see this film. If only for the way that time-lapse allows us to see the chaos of modern cities, see this film. If only for the way that it makes the viewer recognize the ways in which our lives are more manufactured than they have ever been, see this film.
  11. Aug 30, 2012
    Samsara is an incredible collection of moving images, a poignant portrayal of human life in the third millennium. It covers the humorously absurd, the depressingly cruel, and stunningly beautiful traits of being a human. Almost every shot in this film is something you've never seen before, even if it's a shot of a local Costco, or highway. The camera's lens captures what the human eye can't see. I'd agree that sometimes it is a little didactic, and relentless with its social criticism, but you won't mind because you'll be too busy soaking up everything you're seeing. The human subject is never treated as a pawn in the filmmaker's argument, instead every pair of eyes is allowed to exist in front of yours. A spectacle in every sense of the word. Expand

Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 24
  2. Negative: 1 out of 24
  1. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Sep 21, 2012
    Achingly beautiful and visually transfixing, Samsara offers a transporting vacation from the usual multiplex fare. It's a movie to get lost in.
  2. Reviewed by: Randy Cordova
    Sep 13, 2012
    The film winds up being a collection of striking visuals without any emotional heft.
  3. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Sep 13, 2012
    It seems to me that since "Koyaanisqatsi" in 1982, for which Fricke served as the director of photography, every other film of this sort has been repetition.