BluRay/DVD Reviews

BARAKA

By • Mar 22nd, 2009 •

Share This:

It was the first film shot in 70mm in twenty years, and looked awe-inspiring at the two press screenings I attended at the state-of-the-art Dolby Screening room. It then opened in New York City where, through some incomprehensibly stupid blunder on the part of the distributor, it was booked into a theater that was only equipped to project 35mm! All that technical labor, gone an instant.

But MPI has done a fine job with their BluRay transfer. The disc does the film incredible justice. Foregrounds and backgrounds are so finely detailed, it’s as if one’s eyes had been augmented by some future technology. We visit 24 countries, on six continents, and witness a vast panoply of colors and culture that a dozen Class A tourist junkets could not begin to provide us.

Certainly the monkey sitting in the steam bath, staring at us mournfully as snow-flakes alight on its head, was the greatest film moment of 1992. Throughout the film, from time to time, people from varying cultures give us those same, long, soulful stares that seem to reveal all they feel and know. It’s one of many stylistic choices made by Director Fricke, who obviously believed that 70mm could gaze further past the outer trappings of a human being than other formats.

Another choice he makes is a MODERN TIMES-like montage of baby chicks flowing through elaborate machinery and down precipitous chutes, intercut with Japanese citizens racing to and from work in fast-motion. Despite the fact that these sequences give the film subtext and substance, I liked it better when it was not forcing its points upon me, but just drawing me into the wonders of Earth’s natural landscapes, and the endlessly fascinating vistas of the human face.

Another film shot in 70mm did open before BARAKA, but was in production later – FAR AND AWAY, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Though visually beautiful, the film rarely displayed a 70mm look, and my extensive research revealed a multitude of little problems, all of which chipped away at the final result, including studio decisions, print supervision, and theater lenses. BARAKA was a meticulously engineered project, shot with a crew of three, and no other forces got in the way from inception to release…until that tragic theater booking in NYC.

Tagged as:
Share This Article: Digg it | del.icio.us | Google | StumbleUpon | Technorati

Leave a Comment

(Comments are moderated and will be approved at FIR's discretion, please allow time to be displayed)