Despite being 17 years old, Baraka is still one of the most mesmerizing things I've ever seen. Baraka is an ancient Sufi world meaning blessing, the breath or the essence of life from which evolutionary process unfolds. A five person crew, a period of 14 months, 24 countries across 6 continents later the beautiful Baraka was born.
A dear friend introduced me to Baraka and I'm forever grateful. When I told him I had never even heard of it, he simply said, "we'll watch it tonight. It will change your life". So my two friends and I popped in the film, cranked the surround sound and found a comfy nook in the couch. I didn't know what to expect. Not one word was said throughout the entire one hour and 36 minute film. All three of us were locked in a trance and when it was all over, I was completely lost for words.
So a little bit about the background...The film is a collage of imagery from around the world that doesn't use words, because it really doesn't have to. It's almost like National Geographic on tape, but captures the more intimate details of life. It documents unexplained natural treasures, larger-than-life man made structures and the simplicity of animals in their habitat. It depicts the effects of overpopulation with fast motion street scenes in Tokyo traffic and assembly line productions. It shows the human devotion to religion and spirituality by whirling dervishes of Islam’s Sufi sect, Orthodox Jews bobbing at the Wailing Wall and Muslim pilgrims circling the Kabah in Mecca. And poverty is ultimately seen through the eyes of children in India. Essentially Baraka is about life and finding the beauty and the suffering in it all. It's realizing that there is so much more to the world we live in and coming to terms with the fact that your own problems seem so minor in the grand scheme of things. (Well at least that's what I think).
Visually enriching and tastefully paired with beautiful music including the chanting of Lisa Gerrard, makes it hard for anyone to hide their emotions at times. Depending on past travels and experiences, each scene will trigger something different. For me, I jumped back in time to Cambodia, walking through the Killing Fields. When I saw the footage of the millions of black and white photographs of people who were massacred during the Khmer Rouge, my heart sank deep down into my stomach. I will never forget the faces from those photographs I saw up close while walking through the concentration camp or the sight of the neatly stacked skulls at the Killing Fields. What I saw and learned from that horrific genocide is forever embedded in my head and heart. For you, it could trigger something completely different.
Here is the Baraka trailer. I would love to hear comments on what readers thought of the documentary. What did it trigger in you?