A WORLD BEYOND WORDS.
BARAKA fully restored... the first movie ever transferred in 8k ultradigital HD!
"AWESOME" –The New York Times
"EXTRAORDINARY" –Washington Post
"MAGNIFICENT" –The Los Angeles Times
And film critic Roger Ebert extolls the Blu-ray edition as: "the finest video disc I have ever viewed or ever imagined... Baraka by itself is sufficient reason to acquire a Blu-ray player."
Shot in breathtaking 70mm in 24 countries on six continents, BARAKA is a transcendent global tour that explores the sights and sounds of the human condition like nothing you've ever seen or felt before. These are the wonders of a world without words, viewed through man and nature's own prisms of symmetry, savagery, harmony and chaos.
Baraka – produced by Mark Magidson and directed and photographed by Ron Fricke, award-winning cinematographer of KOYAANISQATSI and creators of the IMAX® sensation CHRONOS – has now been fully restored from its original camera negative via state-of-the-art 8K UltraDigital mastering to create the most visually stunning Blu-ray DVD ever made.
Arriving Tuesday, October 28, MPI Home Video presents the film with both a 2-disc DVD Special Edition (SRP $29.98), and in 1080p high-definition on Blu-ray ($34.98).
Bonus Features (on both the DVD and BD) include:
* Baraka: A Closer Look (77 min/HD)
* Baraka: Restoration (7 min/HD)
(HD resolution on Blu-ray only)
> Clip from the Making of BARAKA »
(on Amazon.com, 5 min 41 sec)
BARAKA Production Notes (from Wikipedia): Baraka (1992) is a Todd-AO (70 mm) non-narrative, 97-minute film directed by Ron Fricke, cinematographer for Koyaanisqatsi, the first of the "Qatsi" films by Godfrey Reggio.
Often compared to Koyaanisqatsi, BARAKA's subject matter has some similarities—including footage of various landscapes, churches, ruins, religious ceremonies, and cities thrumming with life, filmed using time-lapse photography in order to capture the great pulse of humanity as it flocks and swarms in daily activity. The film also features a number of long tracking shots through various settings, including one through former concentration camps at Auschwitz (in Nazi-occupied Poland) and Tuol Sleng (in Cambodia) turned into museums honoring their victims: over photos of the people involved, past skulls stacked in a room, to a spread of bones. In addition to making comparisons between natural and technological phenomena, such as in Koyaanisqatsi, BARAKA searches for a universal cultural perspective: for instance, following a shot of an elaborate tattoo on a bathing Japanese yakuza mobster with one of Native Australian tribal paint.
The movie was filmed at 152 locations of 24 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Nepal, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States. It contains no dialogue. Instead of a story or plot, the film uses themes to present new perspectives and evoke emotion purely through cinema. The film was the first in over twenty years to be photographed in the 70mm Todd-AO format.
The title Baraka is a word that means blessing in many different languages. The score provided by Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard (from Dead Can Dance), Inkuyo, and Michael Stearns is noticeably different from the minimalist one provided by Philip Glass for Koyaanisqatsi. Notable music was also contributed by the band Brother. The film was produced by Mark Magidson, who also produced and directed the film Toward the Within, a live concert performance by Dead Can Dance. A sequel to Baraka, SAMSARA, is planned to be released in 2009.
"It is a meditation on the planet... The movie has the power of a dream, from which we awaken, instead of a warning, to which we respond." (Roger Ebert)
BARAKA - the 2008 Restoration
In the ancient Sufi language, it is a word that translates to "the thread that weaves life together." In the pantheon of modern cinema, it remains one of the most unique motion picture events of our time. Now sixteen years after its 70mm theatrical release that redefined the documentary genre, the original creative team behind Baraka has collaborated with MPI Media Group and Hollywood's top digital masters to redefine the visual possibilities of Blu-ray DVD.
Originally shot in 24 countries on six continents, Baraka brought together a series of stunningly photographed scenes to capture what director/ cinematographer Ron Fricke calls "a guided mediation on humanity." It was a shoot of unprecedented technical, logistical and bureaucratic scope – detailed in the disc's extensive documentary Bonus Features – that would take 30 months to complete, including 14 months on location, with a custom-built computerized 65mm camera. "The goal of the film," says producer Mark Magidson, "was to reach past language, nationality, religion and politics and speak to the inner viewer." The result was a global cultural perspective unlike anything seen before by audiences.
Critical reaction was both immediate and unparalleled. "Baraka has the power of a dream," wrote Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. "It is claimed that there are no longer amazing, exotic, beautiful and fearsome places to discover. A movie like Baraka gives hope. It makes the earth and its inhabitants seem touchingly fragile." The Washington Post raved, "Baraka fulfills the 'magic carpet' promise of the movies to a previously unimagined degree. Nothing in this epic visual poem is less than extraordinary."
Audiences would soon discover the film's remarkable emotional power, making it one top-grossing international 70mm releases of its time. A 2001 DVD release featuring a new 16x9 transfer and digitally re-mastered 5.1 Surround Sound became one of the most popular and acclaimed discs in the format's history. But as Fricke and Magidson began to explore the capabilities of new digital technology, they would soon seize the challenge to capture the film's 70mm theatrical impact in the ultimate high definition DVD.
For the first time in history, a 65mm feature film camera negative would be mastered at 8192 pixels of resolution, creating a digital file in excess of an astounding 30 terabytes in size. This frame-by-frame scanning process – designed specifically for Baraka by FotoKem Laboratory – has produced a detailed HD image unlike any ever seen. "This is the best and most advanced technology available in the world today," says DVD Restoration Producer Christopher Reyna. "We were able to repair damage that had occurred to the original negative during production in the Himalayas, in the jungles of Brazil, as well as in the lab over the years. The dynamic range, color saturation, sharpness and contrast ratio of Baraka in the home environment now far exceeds anything in the industry. Nothing comes close."
For the home entertainment industry, Baraka represents a digital breakthrough that will change the way we watch DVDs. "Creating the new DVD master for Baraka was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," says FotoKem Vice President Andrew Oran. "It is arguably the highest quality Blu-ray DVD that has ever been made." For the filmmakers, the 8K Ultra-Digital restoration now fulfills the promise of Baraka for an entire new generation to discover. "To be talking about a state of the art re-release of the film after so many years is remarkable," says Mark Magidson. "Baraka has truly stood the test of time."
A WORLD BEYOND WORDS.
BARAKA, an ancient Sufi word with forms in many languages, translates as a blessing, or as the breath or essence of life from which the evolutionary process unfolds. A transcendently poetic tour of the globe, Baraka depicts the harmony and rhythm between man and nature, and is often breathtaking, relaxing and spiritual. Shot in the 70mm format in 24 countries on six continent.
Set to the life affirming rhythms of varied religious rituals and nature's own raw beat, Baraka is a visualization of the interconnectedness humans share with the earth. Spanning such diverse locales as China, Brazil, Kuwait and major U.S and European sites, among others, this unique documentary captures not only the harmony, but also the calamity that humans and nature have visited upon the earth. However, mere words do not do the film justice - Baraka must be seen, felt and experienced to be understood.
BARAKA reviewed by Roger Ebert
If man sends another Voyager to the distant stars and it can carry only one film on board, that film might be "Baraka." It uses no language, so needs no translation. It speaks in magnificent images, natural sounds, and music both composed and discovered. It regards our planet and the life upon it. It stands outside of historical time. To another race, it would communicate: This is what you would see if you came here. Of course this will all long since have disappeared when the spacecraft is discovered.
The film was photographed over 14 months by director Ron Fricke , who invented a time-lapse camera system to use for it. In 1992, it was the first film since 1970 to be photographed in Todd-AO, a 65mm system, and in 2008, it seems to have been the last. The restored 2008 Blu-ray DVD is the finest video disc I have ever viewed or ever imagined. It was made from the Todd-AO print, which was digitally restored to a perfection arguably superior to the original film. It is the first 8K resolution video ever made of a 65mm film, on the world's only scanner capable of it. It is comparable to what is perceptible to the human eye, the restorers say. Baraka by itself is sufficient reason to acquire a Blu-ray player.
The film consists of awesome sights, joyful, sad, always in their own way beautiful. By that I do not mean picturesque. A friend came into the room while I was watching the film, saw a closeup of the head of a Gila monster and said, "That's beautiful." I asked if she liked lizards. "I hate lizards," she said, shuddering. She wasn't thinking about lizards. She was observing the iridescent scales of the creature's head. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We are the beholder.
A large gathering of men, shaped in a rough circle, join in synchronous dancing, bowing, standing, kneeling, sitting, standing, their arms in the air, their fingers fluttering like the wings of birds, their voices a rhythmic chatter. Asia, somewhere. They face a statue of the Buddha. Their movements are more complex and intricately timed than the drummers at the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. More inspiring, also, because they have chosen to do this as worship and have not been drilled. They have perfected their ritual, and in their faces we do not see strain or determination, despite the physical ordeal, but contentment and joy. Their movements have the energy of deep enjoyment.
There's the indescribable beauty of aborigines, their bodies bearing necklaces, bracelets and body ornaments made from countless tiny beads, their arms and faces painted in intricate patterns of innumerable dots. They dip a cheap plastic comb in paint and rotate it across their skin to leave the dots. Their hypnotic dancing somehow reverberates with the Asian dancers. We see the bright scarlet paint on the brow of a young Amazonian girl, peering solemnly from bright green leaves. A young woman of the Maasai tribe in Kenya, is clothed in a beauty to render "designer fashions" threadbare.
More images: the sorrowful fall in slow motion of an ancient and lofty tree in the rain forest. The sad poetic beauty in slow motion of a chain of explosions for a strip mine. The despoiling of the land by the deep mine pits. The undeniable beauty of the access roads circling down to the pit bottoms, one line atop another. A virgin forest seen from high above, looking down on wave after wave of birds, hundreds of thousands of them from horizon to horizon.
Scavengers, in an enormous garbage dump in India, claw at the refuse to make a living, competing with birds and dogs. Women, boys and girls. Barefoot. Bold boys climb atop a dump truck to slide down with fresh garbage and grab at treasure. There's not a T-shirt to be seen. They are all garbed in the cheapest fabrics of India, a land where a woman can crawl from a cardboard box on the sidewalk and stand up looking elegantly dressed.
Eggs, thousands of them, float by on a conveyor belt. Recently hatched chicks, dressed in yellow down, tumble from a conveyor belt down a chute onto another belt. Their eyes are wide, they look about amazed, their tiny wings flutter. This is the most freedom they will ever know. They are sorted, tossed into funnels, spin down in a spiral, emerge one at a time to be marked with dye and have the tips of their beaks burned off. This process, one second per chick, is repeated time after time by workers. Endless rows of chickens stacked atop each other in boxes too small to allow them to move. Girls and young women, thousands of them, as far as the eye can see, make cigarettes by hand in a South American sweatshop. Too close to stretch. Workers assemble computer parts in a Japanese factory, thousands of them, each one repeating a small action all day along, one who is working with a bandaged hand, three of its fingers too short.
In the factories, the high-angle camera shows rows of these workers reaching to the vanishing point. These are not computer graphics. The images result from painstaking care and perfectionist detail in the filming and restoration, and thoughtful camera placement. Consider a shot from above looking down on the great hall of Grand Central Station. Two movements at once: commuters dashing across the floor in speeded-up time, while the camera pans across them in slow motion. It is easy enough to achieve fast motion, but how difficult with a camera that is panning with exquisite slowness. There's an overhead shot of an intersection in Tokyo, with alternating swarms of thousands of cars and thousands of pedestrians. Escalators on the subway system, a speeded-up shot, pour out travelers as the conveyor belt poured chicks.
An orangutan stands shoulder-deep in a warm pool, steam rising around it. We regard it. The eyes look old and thoughtful. The sky is filled with stars. The same thoughtful eyes again. What is it thinking? W.G. Sebold: "Men and animals regard each other across a gulf of mutual incomprehension." What are the people thinking? The man waits for a light to change in Tokyo, inhaling his cigarette. Prostitutes gather outside their brothel. Steelworkers are covered with grime. Monks, girls at a subway stop, kabuki dancers. Why does no one make eye contact with the camera during crowded street scenes? Where was the big Todd-AO camera? How was it concealed? Why did it not frighten a herd of springboks, standing at rest in perfect focus?
Will the aliens viewing this film comprehend some of the scenes? Tiny bright plumes in a desert are revealed as the burning oil fields of Kuwait. Mothballed B-52 bombers reach to the horizon. Manhattan. Corpses are burned on the banks of the Ganges. Will they know the donkeys are pulling a cart much too heavy for them? They will probably understand mountains, waterfalls, volcanoes. Do we? "Baraka is paced so we can contemplate the places we will never go, the places we are destroying, the places where we might find renewal. It is like a prayer.
"Baraka is a Sufi word meaning "a blessing, or the breath, or the essence of life, from which the evolutionary process unfolds." In Islam generally, it is "a quality or force emanating originally from Allah but capable of transmission to objects or to human beings." In Judaism, it is a ceremonial blessing. In Swahili, it means "blessing." In French slang, it means "good luck." In Serbian and Bulgarian, it means "shack." In Turkish, it means "barracks." All over the world, it is the name of a character in the "Mortal Kombat" video game.