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Posted on Jan 26, 2009 in Blu-Ray Review | 0 comments

Blu-Ray Review : Baraka

It has not been customary herein for me to review much in the traditional sense, but I thought I should scribble a few words about a movie I watched last night, Baraka: Remastered (Blu Ray) [1992]

Although nearly 17 years old, the remastering and transfer to Blu-Ray has given this a new lease of life and it doesn’t show anything of its age.

To be lazy, here is how it describes itself:

A visually stunning film shot over 13 months, in 24 countries; Baraka is an overwhelming experience that spans the geographical, cultural and social diversity of our changing planet. Set to an atmospheric sountrack inspired by various rituals and nature itself, the film captures the very essence of man’s relationship with the earth, both harmonious and catastrophic. Baraka is a journey of rediscovery. It is the power, the beauty and the rage of life itself. It is the world we live in.

Don’t let that put you off. OK, 90-odd minutes of pictures and music maybe isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the images rarely leave you bored. If you’re like me and you love to flick through large books of great photos then this is the same, but without the weight on your knee and the spine down the middle. The imagery is that good. It is a dream to watch for a photographer. It feels like a moving photo. Every shot is a great still in its own right. It wasn’t surprising to hear in the accompanying ‘Making of…’ that they had used local still photographers to give them a guide to location, light etc.

Use of stop-frame tracking shots also adds a whole new dimension to the visuals. Some of the effects achieved are very special. People, cars streaming about at high speed take on a whole new unseen rhythm that is quite beguiling.

The movie clearly has a message and how you react to that will be entirely based on your own personal level of cynicism to such things. I’m not going to labour any overly worthy points but, for me, it certainly has an impact that goes beyond “wow, that’s looks cool”. But I’m not going to go all preachy. It certainly reinforced one thing, I’ve not even begun to see enough of the world. (something I’ve touched on before).

On a purely technical level, this film is what a 1080p HD TV and Blu-Ray setup is for. Much as you can probably buy Daddy Day Camp on Blu-Ray, there really isn’t much point (for many reasons, but you can see what I’m getting at). The transfer is stunning and if you have an HD setup, you should buy this just to show friends and doubters.

So, whether or not you want to immerse yourself in the whole Gaia message and just want to show off your AV setup, this film is a must on Blu-Ray.

I bought Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi on DVD ages ago and never got round to watching them. I might just do that now but with the understanding that I’ll be less enchanted with the SD-ness, could be a good upscale test though.

In the end, Baraka leaves you feeling more than a little small. Which I think is a good thing. Coz that’s how it is.

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