CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: ‘Samsara’ is a Film That Will Be Whatever You Want
CHICAGO – It is revitalizing to take a break from traditional cinema, and the new artistic film “Samsara” is a non-linear quasi-documentary and travelogue that is a parade of images contemplating existence and the beauty around us. Who doesn’t need that tonic of meditation every so often?
Filmmakers Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson are expanding on concepts explored in their previous films “Baraka” and “Chronos,” which also explore non-linear imagery. This film goes all over the world over five years, but mostly focuses on the humanity that strives within it. With the time-lapse view of ordinary events, personhood is reduced to a primal state, one of tribes and animalistic movements. The rhythms and the soundtrack are reflective of these images and create a soothing visual symphony for virtually all the senses.
The film begins with a series of close-ups, faces in compose. There is suddenly movement, dancing and then a series of subjects and images that are from all over the world. 25 countries were visited to view workplaces, rituals, religions and always the mask of the close-up human face. The landscapes, matched movements and wonder of human interaction with their environment is well highlighted. The word “Samsara” also defines the film, it is Sanskrit meaning ‘cyclic existence.’
The film is also fascinated with synchronization, such as humans working together to form visual elements as a multiple fan-like representation of arms or a precise military-like martial arts ceremony with thousands of participants moving the same way. The time-lapse photography of a Muslim prayer service takes on the look of a ant colony – the rhythms of cooperation and scheduling are so precise, that from far away the prayer service looks like a living organism. “Samsara” is whatever you want it to be.
Photo credit: Oscilloscope Pictures