In this report, I present an analysis of the film Samsara, directed by Ron Fricke and produced by Mark Magidson. Samsara was released on August 31st, 2012, and was filmed over five years in twenty-five countries on five continents. This is a film without descriptive text and no narrator is explaining the places and sequences of the film, but it comes through loud and clear with all the eye-popping and stunning national geographic images about people, different places, structures, and religious rituals or practices.
It also shows us those disaster areas, industrial sites, and sacred grounds. The film makes us interpret the story behind those images and videos including the music that is both ancient and modern.
The purpose of this report is to interpret and explain the possible meaning of the film. To be able to understand the purpose of the directors and producers of the film about the aspects of life or human existence, and the relationship with nature or the environment.
Also, the relevance of our approach to sustainability. Samsara Definition Samsara is defined as the indefinitely repeated cycles of birth, misery, and death caused by karma (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). The Sanskrit word meaning refers to the wheel of life, the cycle of birth, death, destruction, and rebirth or the ever-turning wheel of life (Spirituality & Practice, n.d.). In my opinion, Samsara explains the eternal or endless cycle of life. We can call it, the circle of life. Not only to humans but also in nature. The death or extinction of the other leads to the birth or creation of others.
This means that there is no life without death and there is no death without life, and the process continues.
What is its relevance to the film? The film Samsara shows us how everything is interconnected with each other. It presents the pattern of life. It tells the story of our world. How humans are connected with nature- plants, animals. In terms of sustainability, humans are the ones that destroy nature, and most of the time, the services that nature provides are taken for granted. I would say that human beings cannot live without this, but nature probably can survive without humans. The film also shows us that creation and destruction are immanent to life. One of the scenes in the film is the Mandala sand painting, where the monks are very careful and gentle in constructing the painting but at the end of the film, they carefully destroy it and put all the sands back in a pot. Another is the making of appliances like iron in a Chinese factory and the destruction of those junk cars. This shows us that humans can construct and eventually we destroy. Same with nature, the volcanic eruption that was also shown in the beginning. At the same time, we human beings construct it but nature destroys just like hurricane Katrina in the film and when nature provides, we humans also destroy or abused it. Did the film leave you with more positive or negative feelings about the world we inhabit? The film leaves me a positive and also a negative feeling about the world that we inhabit. I would say a positive feeling because the film enabled me to see with my own eyes those beautiful sceneries of nature, the most stunning places on our planet that we live and various spiritual practices of people around the world, whether Muslims, Jews, Buddhists or Christians. I would also say a negative feeling because the film shows me the shared distress of earth and humankind. It shows me those prostitutes that are dancing with only their bikinis and the factory workers creating sex dolls. Also, the making of guns and bullets, those squatter areas or informal settlers including the dump trash site that was featured in the film that was located in my home country.
Which scene(s) from the film made the most significant impression on you and why? There were scenes from the film that made the most significant impression on me and I am not referring to those natural beauties of nature that were featured. First, is the dumpsite in Payatas, Quezon that was featured in my home country. There are a lot of children, elderly, and anyone in between that go into that place. Those people are very desperate to find any stuff that they can recycle or sell in exchange for food. The squatter areas were also featured. This scene shows what poverty looks like in my home country. I don’t even know if there are actions or solutions for these issues but it seems that it’s just getting worse. Second, is the miners climbing in the lip of a steaming volcano, where they get a certain mineral, put it in buckets, and carry it on their back. I could see in their faces how difficult it is and the marks on their shoulders because of the wood and the weight they carry. Just imagine working there the whole day, breathing in the smoke and heat, that would affect their health but seeing how they endure everything to sustain their living. The third one is the scene of a man in his business suit and sitting at his desk in his office. At first, he seems okay, but after for a while, he started putting the clay all over his face, putting dirt and paint on it.
After that, he started tearing his suit and tie and just went crazy. It seems that he was getting away from himself. This scene is surprising and a little bit scary. But the scene made me realize two things, first, within us, we all hide something in ourselves that we do not want anyone else to know about it. And second, because of the kind of labor that we have now, going to work every day, doing the same task over and over again. And also, seeing how machines replace humans for work. And last, is the scenes that show the food industry with the poultry production of chicken, pigs, and cow. Then, we are brought to supermarkets where people buy goods for their consumption and after that, through restaurants where people are enjoying the food they eat. The consequence of this is shown in the scene by a man that is obese and is getting ready for his surgery. How many different countries have you visited? Did you feel an urge to travel more or to stay put after watching this film?
For me, I have not visited many countries yet. Most of my life, I have lived in my home country, Philippines. Back in 2018, I traveled in Taiwan, though I only have seven days, I would say that it was a very good and unforgettable experience that I had. I went to some of their tourist destinations and it was very beautiful and relaxing. I also tried some of their Taiwanese dishes and street foods that are comforting. Now that I am here in Canada, I have never been to any other places yet. But in the future, if I have the chance, I really like to travel around the world. After watching this film, it makes me feels that I need to do some research on those beautiful places that were featured and include it in my travel bucket list. I want to see and experience it myself and not only to view those places on the internet. Did the film leave you with a feeling that we, as human beings across the globe, are more similar or different from one another? After watching the film, I would say that we as human beings across the globe are similar to one another.
This film is a reminder that shows as to how large our planet may it seem, we only live on one planet, we share the same sun, and moon, the same air, and we are all the same in human form. Though we are living in different countries, with different religions, all the issues that everyone is facing and experiencing are the same. The film shows us the worldwide suffering and death, poverty not only in my home country but others as well. It also shows us violence, lust, greed, and financial success. Each of us bears responsibility in this world that we are living in. And, we all face those consequences because of our actions. How does this film relate to the issues and questions evoked by the three pillars of sustainability (people, planet, and profit/ prosperity)? The film Samsara is very much related to the issues and questions evoked by the three pillars of sustainability by showing the scenes and images that are connected. Due to the needs of people and increasing consumption like foods, other products, and services, we can see how emerging industrial companies are to meet the increasing demand.
The production of these leads to the increasing use of our limited resources resulting in massive waste disposal and pollution. The scenes in the film showing what happened when Hurricane Katrina strike, it brought severe damage, billions of losses, and death. We do not only experience typhoons, but extreme weather like heat and cold.
What are the reasons for climate change that we people experience? The answer is obvious to us. It is because of our actions. We are putting too much carbon in our atmosphere with the increase in human activities like deforestation and the use of land because of increasing industrial activities. Our planet is facing a lot of changes in these current times. People in different countries experience different environmental challenges every day. Polluted water and soil, mountains of waste, pandemics that we currently experiencing today, and depletion of our natural resources are just a few examples. The destruction of our natural resources for a short term profit because of greed, selfishness, and personal gains. It is time for us to think of solutions, and act to help our planet a better place to live, not only for us but for future generations.
In conclusion, the film Samsara shows us the causes and consequences of human actions with nature. Samsara shows us the continuous cycles of situations and provides the viewers of diverse issues such as the emerging food and other product industries showing in the film, the entertainment industry, different religions, and the transformation of the environment by humanity. The film also portrayed the environmental problems that we are facing in this modern world such as poverty, waste disposal, and climate change. The film features those animals in factory farms, and also the people working in the factories. It features those worshipers and at the same time, the prisoners. It also shows the gap between the rich and poor by featuring those penthouses and swimming pools in contrast with the people’s houses living in the squatter’s area. And, it also shows the birth and death in the scenes. Thus, every image in the film is interconnected with each other and linking them in the state of our environment, our global economy, and the relationships between those industries and effects in nature through the creation and destruction of those products and services. Finally, the message I learned from this film is that the scenes show us the beauty of life in this world, it also shows us how fragile it is and the impermanence of life. That is why we should not waste it and we must live our life to the fullest.