has an average rating of 8.1 on IMDb
1080p in VC-1 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 MA & Dolby Digital 5.1
are limited but fantastic.
– 97 minutes
Overall Verdict – An Absolute “Must See”
— Review by: James Segars —
The Movie Itself is directed and lensed by Ron Fricke.
a spiritual power believed to be possessed by certain persons, objects, tombs, etc.
Origin: Ar barakah; cf. Heb bərākhāh blessing
A blessing. The breath of life. Raw spiritual power. All of these definitions can be found to describe the word Baraka, a word that perfectly encapsulates this breathtaking cinematic journey into the human spirit, showcasing both the divine connections between us, as well as our effect on the planet at large — for better or worse.
Ron Fricke’s masterpiece is the quintessential documentary/travelogue that captures our planet’s raw, unique beauty, while providing us with a unique perspective of human life via mind-blowing moving portraits of ritualistic practices around the world, ranging from funeral pyres to monotonous morning commutes. His vision is uncompromised, and unfailing — an unparalleled visual experiment that is unmatched in every sense. Devoid of dialog or narration, the film is purely cinematic; universally understood, and applicable because it relies on imagery alone to tell its story. Some might be deterred by that fact, but I can’t imagine the film any other way. Simply put, you’ve never seen a film quite like this one. It is meditative, hypnotic, emotionally charged, breathtaking and engaging all at once.
And as bold as it may sound, I’ve never seen a more beautiful film than Baraka. Every single image — whether static, moving or time-lapse — is expertly composed and teeming with grace, artistry and meaning. It’s as if the film is a love letter addressed to the inhabitants of earth, from an alien planet. The perspective is so unique, incisive and removed that it’s hard to imagine a human could have lensed such a magnificent piece of art. It deftly summarizes the human race and our collective effect on our surroundings, on history and ourselves.
I simply can’t recommend this film enough. It is easily one of the most profound and touching films/documentaries I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. And while I can go on and on about how fantastic it is, in the end, words are at a loss to describe how beautiful and surreal the viewing experience is. Baraka is an unforgettable emotional journey across the world, that instills hope, and awe, allowing us to see life’s wondrous gifts, and yet it also tells a cautionary tale of planetary disharmony through images of death, destruction and poverty. In the end though, as the film’s credits began to roll, I felt a swell of hope, awe and respect for all life on this planet come over me, and I even felt more connected to the world around me, as hokey as that may sound.
Where The Godfather is my favorite fictional film, Baraka is my new favorite non-fiction film. Both are timeless classics, and prime examples of filmmaking excellence, but Baraka in particular is an experience all its own. I don’t think the film will ever find itself as universally accepted as it is constructed, but I imagine that it will only continue to amass fans, garner more praise, and become more and more significant as time rolls on as the boundaries between cultures inevitably overlap and ultimately dissolve.
Video Quality on this release is 1080p in VC-1 on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte Blu-ray Disc) and presented in the 2.21:1 aspect ratio.
Shot on custom-built cameras using 65mm film stock, Baraka was destined for high definition, and rest assured it looks absolutely gorgeous on Blu-ray. While the wondrous cinematography is the undisputed star of the show, much of the credit on this release goes out to the brilliant restorative efforts by the folks at FotoKem. Were it not for them, Baraka might not have been given the proper care and attention the film deserved, and believe me when I say that no expense was spared on restoring Baraka. Take for example the state-of-the-art 8K scan of the 65mm camera negatives — 4K is the current standard, and 2K the old — which can, in theory, extract every possible ounce of image data there is to pull from the original negative, bringing the viewer ever closer to living in the moment, and not simply watching it. As you might imagine, with such a comprehensive scan the fine object detail throughout the film is superb, to the point where you might think you are actually peering through a window, as opposed to looking at a screen. It’s that good.
Outside of the breathtaking image detail, every other aspect of the transfer is equally impressive. Black levels are rock solid. Color saturation and consistency is flawless. Distracting edge enhancement or DNR filters were either applied judiciously and conservatively, or not at all, as they are nowhere to be found. In other words, the work done by the folks over at FotoKem is of the highest caliber, and reference quality. And when compared to other stunning catalog restorations by Motion Picture Imaging, and Lowry Digital, the folks at FotoKem have easily matched, or even surpassed, the very best visual presentations on found Blu-ray to date. Our hats are off Christopher Reyna and his restoration team for a job well done. We can only hope to see more films get this sort of treatment in the future.
Whether you’ve seen Baraka before, or not, you will be blown away by the top-tier video presentation featured on this Blu-ray release. As such, this presentation easily secures a “5 Star Rating” for overall video quality.
Audio Quality on this release is in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and Dolby Digital 5.1.
Every bit as majestic as the film and video quality, the audio presentation on this release is mightily impressive. Restored and remixed by the film’s talented composer, Michael Stearns, every environmental effect or musical cue is expertly handled and rendered with precision and care. The haunting and hypnotic score is delivered across the channels with great force wherever appropriate, and subtlety when necessary. As the film is not dialog driven, the surround effects and music reign supreme, and atmospherics are key. As the filmmakers travel the world, so do we as the auditory environments are lush and incredibly immersive. While I’ve never heard the film before, I can’t imagine this film sounding any better than it does now. From explosions, to falling trees, to waterfalls, to tribal chants, everything sounds perfect, and is delivered without fail.
It might not be considered a demo quality presentation by some, but by our standards, it is representative of reference quality audio through and through, therefore it also secures a “5 Star Rating” for overall quality.
Bonus Materials are presented in a combination of both Hi-Def (HD) and Standard Definition (SD) video quality.
- “Baraka: A Closer Look” (HD/SD, 75 minutes) – A fantastic making-of feature that uses retrospective interviews of the production/creative team along with VHS behind-the-scenes footage of the actual production to show us how Baraka made the move from concept to reality. I really, really enjoyed this feature. It might even be up there with some of the best making-of features out there today. I was amazed to find that only a handful of people were responsible for the film — one that spanned 24 countries — and their production stories are incredibly inspiring and entertaining. You simply must watch this if you’re a fan of the film. It’s worth every minute of your time.
- “Restoration” (HD/SD, 7 minutes) – A brief look at the work done by FotoKem. We’re presented with interviews with Andrew Oran (Project Supervisor), Christopher Reyna (restoration producer), and Rick Lopez (Large format digital producer) as they detail the work that went into bringing Baraka to Blu-ray. The team speaks specifically about the decision to scan in 8K — a process that took three weeks to digitize, and roughly three terabytes of space to store the scans — as well as the restoration process in general. A solid feature, but a bit short.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.