A travelogue, a National Geographic Magazine come alive, a visual meditation tool – “Samsara” is all of these things and, if you choose to go there, more.
Very much in the same mode as the tone-poem “Koyaanisqatsi” movies from several decades ago, the dialogue-free “Samsara” does something movies rarely do: It functions solely on the level of beauty.
You can appreciate its images from around the world, with a strong focus on Asia, just because they’re gorgeous – the painstaking creation of a vivid sand painting, an emerald field dotted with tiny temples, the bright stained-glass windows of the Reims Cathedral. Carefully shot so the details seem to leap off the screen and land in your brain, these are images with the power to move audiences all by themselves.
There’s no plot in “Samsara,” but as sometimes happens when you listen to a piece of music or study an abstract painting, you may find yourself constructing one based on the selection and juxtaposition of the images. “Samsara” never feels like it’s forcing an interpretation on us, but to me, it seemed like it was mostly interested in spiritual matters and its creators are worried the modern world is losing track of beliefs the ancient world took for granted.
Anyway, that’s my “Samsara.” Your “Samsara” will almost certainly be different.