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Around the World in 102 Minutes

Samsara           Have you ever been sitting in a cinema and become so involved in the plot that you literally believe you are an extra character in the film? Only to be brutally awakened to reality when the credits roll up? It happens to me most of the time, which is why I still value a trip to the cinema, although almost any film can now be found online for free. It’s the power of the big screen that simply draws you in, the mighty surround sound, and the popcorn of course. I’ve started appreciating the independent cinemas, the ones with bars for pre-show drinks, the ones that show the more unusual films and in particular the foreign films. For anyone living outside an English-speaking country, it probably seems perfectly natural to you to watch foreign films, either dubbed or with subtitles. In England however it’s an alien concept.

            At our own detriment, we as a nation shun the foreign-language films and as a result it takes a dedicated search to find them. Across Great Britain, the Picturehouse chain show the odd foreign film from time to time, and in London we have a little more luck, with the Curzon Cinemas, the Ciné Lumière, the Cervantes Institute (from time to time) and the Riverside Studios. It was at this last cinema, minutes from where I live, that I saw Samsara the weekend before last. Take a look at the trailer below.

           It was utterly incredible. You may think that some words or some form of plot would be needed to give it some structure, but it honestly doesn’t need anything. I was (metaphorically) on the edge of my seat, eyes wide open, bewildered at what the director Ron Fricke has captured: both the beautiful (some landscapes that will give you really itchy feet) as well as the shocking (Chinese factory workers, meat factories, prisoners, shanty towns). I came out of the film wanting to become a documentary maker. This always happen to me when I come out of the cinema – I’ve invariably decided on a career change to spy (all James Bond films), a flamenco dancer (Flamenco Flamenco), a detective (Sherlock Holmes), the list goes on… However I don’t get this when I simply watch something at home – I don’t get as involved.

           Samsara (meaning the repeating cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth) was released in 2011 as the sequel to a previous film of a similar style, Baraka (1992). This was also showing last weekend as part of a double bill but we had a party to go to so couldn’t stay for that one. If anyone has seen Baraka, feel free to tell me what you thought of it! The reason I’ve included this film under the umbrella of travel is because it was filmed in 25 countries over 5 years, and therefore it transports you across the world in seconds, showing you only the highlights, with none of the waiting around in airports! Watching the credits is interesting in itself, as it lists the filming locations, which are not shown during the film. If you’re trying to decide where your next trip will take you, watch the credits alone for inspiration.

           Take the time to hunt out the film in a cinema, it’ll be worth it I promise!

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