Baraka is a 1992 non-narrative film directed by Ron Fricke. A stunning collection of expertly photographed scenes of human life, the majority of which involve humanity’s many religions.
Baraka has no plot, no storyline, no actors, no dialogue nor any voice-over. Instead, the film uses themes to present new steps and evoke emotion through pure cinema. Baraka is a kaleidoscopic, global compilation of both natural events and by fate, life and activities of humanity on Earth. Without words, cameras show us the world, with an emphasis not on “where,” but on “what’s there.” It begins with morning, natural landscapes and people at prayer: volcanoes, water falls, veldts, and forests; several hundred monks do a monkey chant. Indigenous peoples apply body paint; whole villages dance. The film moves to destruction of nature via logging, blasting, and strip mining. Images of poverty, rapid urban life, and factories give way to war, concentration camps, and mass graves. Ancient ruins come into view, and then a sacred river where pilgrims bathe and funeral pyres burn. Prayer and nature return. A monk rings a huge bell; stars wheel across the sky.
Baraka was the first in over twenty years to be photographed in the 70mm Todd-AO format. The movie was filmed at 152 locations in 23 countries. Some locations include: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Ecuador, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jerusalem, Kenya, Kuwait, Nepal, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, United States and Vatican City.
Baraka is an ancient Sufi word, which can be translated “as a blessing, or the breath, or the essence of life from which the evolutionary process unfolds.”