"A human being is a part of the whole called by us the universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest....This delusion is a kind or prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in all its beauty."
— Albert Einstein
Baraka is the most ambitious and astonishing film of the year — a real spellbinder! The title is taken from a Sufi word meaning "blessing" or "essence of life." This non-narrative expands our awareness of the world and helps widen our circle of compassion. Produced by Mark Magidson and directed by cinematographer Ron Fricke using the 70 millimeter film format, it was photographed on six continents in 24 countries including Tanzania, China, Brazil, Japan, Kuwait, Cambodia, Japan, Iran, Nepal, and the United States.
With its breathtaking cinematography and mesmerizing music, Baraka delivers an unforgettable collection of snapshots from the global family album. Startling, powerful, and moving images portray the vastness and variety of nature, city life, sacred sites, rituals, and the shared distress of earth and humankind. The images are carried into our consciousness and connected to our feelings by the soul-stirring music and sound collages of composer Michael Stearns.
The filmmakers have captured a compelling record of dramatic and spiritual moments as well as other scenes which give us pause to wonder about the fate of the planet and its creatures. Everyone will have his or her favorite images or scenes from Baraka. Here are a few of ours.
- We were moved by the variety of scenes portraying the devotional lives of individuals all over the world. There is something touching about men and women in prayer, humbling themselves in acts of veneration to a higher being. Such people can become vessels of compassion.
- We were awed by the mountains of Nepal, the Iguacu Falls in Argentina, Ayers Rock in Australia, the terraced landscapes of Bali, and Canyonlands National Park in Utah.
- We were impressed by the rituals of cultures that have retained their intimacy with the natural world — Australian aboriginals, African tribes, and Latin American Indians. In some instances, individuals participating in these rites seemed to be awakened to larger realities. Amonc these were the Sufi whirling dervishes in Turkey, the Balinese men doing the "Kecek" dance, and the Maasai man jumping for joy.
- We were somewhat saddened by the scenes of traffic and subway congestion in New York City and Tokyo where compulsion pushes aside compassion and speed becomes the order of the day. Contrast this with the tranquil monkey meditating in a pool or a Buddhist monk doing a walking meditation on a busy street.
- We were taken aback by the many places in the world where compassion seems to be in exile. Certainly its absense is evident inthe faces of poor people scavenging for food at an garbage dump, in the bundled up bodies of homeless people sleeping on city streets, in the cold stares of prostitutes, and in the violent glare of soldiers guarding munitions.
- Our compassion is needed by the atmosphere and the water befouled by the burning oil wells in Kuwait. It goes out to the baby chicks callously being sorted on a huge conveyor belt in an egg factory. It extends to two donkeys struggling to pull an overloaded cart up a hill and to the mighty tree felled in the rain forest.
- We hope that the energy to widen our circle of compassion will come from the Buddhists in their temples, the Christians in their churches, the Jews at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Islamic believers in their mosques, and the Hindus along the sacred river Ganges.
In the end, Baraka helps us to see and to feel in our flesh that the healing of self and the healing of the planet are inextricably linked.