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Baraka is a Sufi expression for “breath of life”. The film producer, director, and the composer gave the film its audio visual quality poem that reflects on the world, plus the diverse cultures that scramble on its surface. Baraka moves away from the conventional setting of man versus nature.
The film is intricately anchored on the scope of spiritual exploration. Vistas of both natural and man-made landscapes including landscapes etched on the faces of the men and women, aborigine warriors, japans Noh dancers, as well as the rainforest children, all have the mark of their distinct cultures. The objective of these illustrations shows that men do have shared convictions which are grander than the general physical world.
The film Baraka is an exceptional and exemplary model of the effectual usage of poetic mode in documentary oriented filmmaking. Lack of linier or recognized location, lack of explicative commentary, and the evidence of manipulated sound and action, collaborate to make this movie a work of art that evidently documents transparency in a profound ,exceptional and original form from a dynamic perspective that can be only be said to be the film makers personal creativity 1.
The film presents a candid architecture, music and sound are compactly integrated and they play a significant role in addition to the striking visuals. This approach is a replacement for conventional, expository commentary.Baraka, for instance, opens with a well set resonance of a wind musical instrument, introverted notes floating in darkness giving the impression of loneliness, harmony, and space. In this instance, the initial signs of music introduce another essential element exposed in the film, the existence of silence.
The instances of silence between the music are as imperative as the music itself. Mingling both sound and silence evokes one of the principal attributes of poetic mode film production, mood, and through mood, we obtain meaning. And this allowance in the feeling creates an environment which makes the audience to be attentive, balanced, and assiduous. Hence, this experience is allowed so as to create experience time at a rate slower to near timelessness.
Also the first clip that escorts music is a long wide shot of the grandiose, snowcapped Himalayan ranges. Hence, the exposed visual motion in this series of simultaneous shots of these overwhelming masses of earth, including Mt.Everst, are birds movement, clound, as well as the random slanting of the camera. This tranquility contrasting movement creates the consciousness of what eventually lasts.
As the film gains currency, an extreme close-up shot of a red-faced monkey, whose physical manners and expressions mirrors human behaviors. The macaque monkey metaphorically peeps into our past and our current situation but sees no connection. Rather the monkey is shown looking away as if in serious contemporation. The film director seizes this opportunity to propose the theme of the film through as simple and a plain cut.
Moving away from the philosophical face of the macaque monkey, who symbolizes not only the human race but all living organisms, to a representation of a full, sparkling night sky, the director humanizes the creature we surmise is thinking with reference to the whole universe.
Intricately, the director explores this connection by cutting closely back to the macaque monkey, who interestingly closes his eyes as if in contemplation. The music, in the meantime, turns out to be more ghostly, through the usage of harmonic cord addition, concluding in a cut to the title with the astrophysical eclipse, a recurring allegory, and the expression Baraka, which to a number of diverse cultures means “blessings”.
It ought to be noted that the opening order follows the functions of poetic documentaries. This is established by the manner the diverse elements and patterns associates through the formation of temporal rhythms as well as exceptional juxtapositions. Hence, these parameters generate poetic dialogue while leaving rhetoric to deviate.
The film also explores the aspects of thematic intercession and connectivity which are strongly revisited through visual presentations. For instance, images of Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, and Jews depicting their religion and traditions are used to show how man connects with the nature.
Also the close-up shot of men dancing in a Cambodian temple depicts how time moves rapidly as is shadow. Too, the clanging bell-like instruments illustrate how may symbolize the increased discordance in the society. The film explores the innate connection between man and another, as well as the man and the spiritual world.
Take for example, the shot where we are allowed to observe Indonesian men seated while moving rhythmically in what is seen as a Kecak Dance, or a monkey chant. This depiction attempts to show the connection which exists between man and animal. And these are joined together in visual and oral symbolic unity.
Hence, the uninterrupted shots of mountain ranges, volcanoes, canyon and rivers are supplemented by low pitched music which kills the silence. And this may be assumed to depict mans return to the nature. While in another instance we see the sun rise and are replaced by a darkened sky. Perhaps this emphasizes the fact that civilization is inconsequential in relation to the enduring nature of nature itself.
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The sound of thunder overcomes almost all audible sounds apart from the rain, this introduces the audience to the figurative storm, symbolic of destructive forces of man which have ruined the universe. Equally, the sound of insects singing with augmented urgency mutes temporarily, only for the silence space to be disrupted with detonations.
As the music becomes more discordant, the film director attempts to connect the innocence with future as is illustrated with a personified face of a child.therefore,the medium shots of women, children and men looking through the windows, depicts people imprisoned in their own ways. As the music becomes more harmonized, the society is also presented as operating effectively, but lacking in spirituality.
In essence, Baraka begins and ends clandestinely with ultimate religious images and tones. Temple bells as well as ancient mantras blend with wind plus waves. While stars twirl and spin above the remote deserts like ocean. The film explores the world as whole. With its glorious tone poem, its meaning, intent and scope are left to be determined by the viewer.
Yet, the film can be said to hold our spiritual reflections along the borders of civilization. Through this film we are compelled to see ourself, and more so, to think of whom we are individually. It is through the intricate analysis of what connects us to the nature that is wholly explored through such dynamics as religion.
Thackway, Melissa.Alternative Perspectives in Sub-Saharan Francophone African Film.
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.
1. Melissa Thackway. Alternative Perspectives in Sub-Saharan Francophone African Film. (Bloomington, IL: Indiana University Press, 2005), 257