IMAX: BARAKA [1992 / 2002 / 2013] [Blu-ray] [UK Release]
A World Beyond Words! Photographed in 70mm in 25 Countries!
‘BARAKA’ is shot in breath-taking 70mm Todd-AO format in 24 countries on six continents. ‘BARAKA’ is a transcendent global tour that explores the sights and sounds of the human condition like nothing you’ve ever seen or felt before. These are the wonders of a world without words, viewed through man and nature s own prisms of symmetry, savagery, harmony and chaos.
‘BARAKA’ produced by Mark Magidson and directed and photographed by Ron Fricke, award-winning cinematographer of KOYAANISQATSI and creators of the IMAX® sensation CHRONOS has now been fully restored from its original camera negative via state-of-the-art 8K UltraDigital mastering to create the most visually stunning Blu-ray ever made.
‘BARAKA’ encourages the audience to think or be entranced, and depending on mood and circumstance it can enthral or bore. With its epic, trans-human scale, vast formal grandeur, depersonalised abstraction, startling juxtapositions and avowed ambition to be the ultimate non-verbal film, Ron Fricke has created a visionary experience akin to the film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’
The project was shot in 152 locations in 24 countries, which included: Africa, United States, South America, Asia, Oceania and Europe.
FILM FACT No.1: Awards and Nominations: 1992 Montreal World Film Festival: Win: FIPRESCI Prize for Out-of-Competition for Ron Fricke. 1994 American Cinema Editors, USA: Nomination: Eddie Award for Best Edited Documentary for David Aubrey, Mark Magidson and Ron Fricke. 1997 Turkish Film Critics Association (SIYAD) Awards: Nominated: SIYAD Award for Best Foreign Film [5th Place]. 2013 20/20 Awards: Win: Felix Award for Best Documentary.
FILM FACT No.2: ‘BARAKA’ was shot in 70mm and scanned in 8K Ultra Resolution, meaning 8,192 pixels across the frame, the highest resolution available, with equipment designed specifically for ‘BARAKA’ at FotoKem Laboratories. The automated 8K film scanner, operating continuously, took more than three weeks to finish scanning more than 150,000 frames and taking approximately twelve to thirteen seconds to scan each frame, producing over thirty terabytes of image data in total. The film score is by Michael Stearns and features music by, among others, Dead Can Dance, L. Subramaniam, Ciro Hurtado, Inkuyo, Brother, Anugama and Sebastiano, and David Hykes. The film was filmed at 152 locations in twenty-four countries.
Director: Ron Fricke
Producers: Alton Walpole and Mark Magidson
Concept and Scenario: Ron Fricke, Mark Magidson and Bob Green
Screenplay: Ron Fricke (concept/scenario/ treatment), Mark Magidson (concept/scenario), Bob Green (concept/scenario), Constantine Nicholas (treatment) and Genevieve Nicholas (treatment)
Composer: Michael Stearns
Cinematography: Ron Fricke (Director of Photography)
Image Resolution: 1080p (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio: 2.21:1 (TODD-AO 70mm)
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
English: 2.0 DTS-HD Stereo Audio
Running Time: 97 minutes
Region: Region B/2
Number of discs: 1
Studio: The Samuel Goldwyn Company / Arrow Films
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: IMAX: ‘BARAKA’  is the ancient Sufi language; it is a word that translates to “the thread that weaves life together.” ‘BARAKA’ is an extraordinary non-narrative film that enables us to see with our eyes and feel in our flesh that the healing of self and the healing of the planet are inextricably linked. ‘BARAKA’ conveys all the beauty and emotion of a dream, guiding you through both the natural and human world. It is not just a film, but instead something to really experience and to really relish. Now over well over 20 years old, ‘BARAKA’ still stands up as a film of beauty, subtle observation and a thought-provoking study into issues of environmentalism, religion and life itself.
Albert Einstein said, "A human being is a part of the whole called by us the universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest. This delusion is a kind or prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in all its beauty."
In the pantheon of modern cinema, it remains one of the most unique motion picture events of our time. Now sixteen years after its 70mm theatrical release that redefined the documentary genre, the original creative team behind ‘BARAKA’ has collaborated with MPI Media Group and Hollywood’s top digital masters to redefine the visual possibilities of the this amazing awe inspiring Arrow Films Blu-ray release.
Originally shot in 24 countries on six continents, and ‘BARAKA’ brought together a series of stunningly photographed scenes to capture what director/ cinematographer Ron Fricke calls “a guided mediation on humanity.” It was a shoot of unprecedented technical, logistical and bureaucratic scope – detailed in the disc’s extensive documentary Bonus Features – that would take 30 months to complete, including 14 months on location, with a custom-built computerized 65mm camera. “The goal of the film,” says producer Mark Magidson, “was to reach past language, nationality, religion and politics and speak to the inner viewer.” The result was a global cultural perspective unlike anything seen before by audiences.
Critical reaction was both immediate and unparalleled. ‘BARAKA’ has the power of a dream, wrote Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. “It is claimed that there are no longer amazing, exotic, beautiful and fearsome places to discover. A movie like ‘BARAKA’ gives hope. It makes the earth and its inhabitants seem touchingly fragile.” The Washington Post raved, that the film ‘BARAKA’ fulfils the ‘magic carpet’ promise of the movies to a previously unimagined degree. Nothing in this epic visual poem is less than extraordinary.
Audiences soon discovered when viewing the film’s remarkable emotional power, making it one top-grossing international 70mm releases of its time. An Arrow Films 2013 release featured a new 1080p image transfer and digitally re-mastered it in both 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround Sound and became one of the most popular and acclaimed Blu-ray disc format’s history. But as Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson began to explore the capabilities of new digital technology, they would soon seize the challenge to capture the film’s 70mm theatrical impact in the ultimate 1080p high definition Blu-ray disc release.
For the first time in history, a 65mm feature film camera negative would be mastered at 8192 pixels of resolution, creating a digital file in excess of an astounding 30 terabytes in size. This frame-by-frame scanning process – designed specifically for ‘BARAKA’ by FotoKem Laboratory – has produced a detailed HD image unlike any ever seen. “This is the best and most advanced technology available in the world today,” says Blu-ray Restoration Producer Christopher Reyna. “We were able to repair damage that had occurred to the original negative during production in the Himalayas, in the jungles of Brazil, as well as in the lab over the years. The dynamic range, colour saturation, sharpness and contrast ratio of ‘BARAKA’ in the home environment now far exceeds anything in the industry. Nothing comes close.” The true joy of Ron Fricke’s work is the truth of it. In a cinematic landscape dominated by special effects and imagined worlds, ‘BARAKA’ shows you exotic and wonderful natural landscapes and especially the wonders of this world that do not need to be artificially created, but merely discovered, which you will do with this awesome IMAX film.
To sum up the IMAX: ‘BARAKA’ film is that one thing that really upset me, in a very horrible way that also made me extremely angry, was watching the total destruction of different parts of Planet Earth, because we have only one Planet Earth, as we should totally respect nature, as nature and animals have a way of healing Planet Earth in the most natural way. Also, when you see scenes of the big cities in the world, especially showing hundreds and thousands of people in the time-lapse camera system, it makes me feel that I am so glad I don’t live in those heavily polluted cities, as the pollution must be very oppressive. Also when you see the hundreds of workers on monotonous assembly lines, I just don’t know how they can sustain those long working hours. Another thing I hated and detested viewing, was the way some animals were being treated very badly, in the most horrendous way possible, and in fact if humans were treated the same way, there would be a total uprising of resentment, and also another aspect I felt uncomfortable, was seeing people living in dire horrendous poverty that you get to view around the world, and those particular Governments should hang their heads in such an inhuman way. So all in all, once again, why are humans treating Planet Earth in such an horrendous way, because there is only one Planet Earth and we should 100% respect Mother Nature and especially the human race.
IMAX: BARAKA MUSIC TRACK LIST
HOST OF SERAPHIM (Performed by Dead Can Dance)
SANYA [Performed by Kohachiro Miyata]
HONSHIEABE [Performed by Kohachiro Miyata]
MANTRA from Mantra/Stabat Mater [Performed by Somei Satoh]
AFRICAN JOURNEY from Exotic Dance (Composed Anugama and Sebastiano) [Performed by Anugama and Sebastiano]
RAINBOW VOICE from Hearing Solar Winds [Performed by The Harmonic Choir/David Hykes and Harmonia Mundi]
HOSTS OF SERAPHIM (Composed by Dead Can Dance) [Performed by Dead Can Dance]
WANDERING SAINT from Expressions of Impressions (Composed by L. Subramaniam) [Performed by L. Subramaniam]
WIPALA from Land of Incas (Composed by Gonzalo Vargas) [Performed by Inkuyo]
OROVELA [Performed by Georgian Voices/Rustavi Choir]
TRISTE (Composed by Ciro Hurtado) [Performed by Ciro Hurtado]
AN DAORACH BHEAG [Performed by Brother, Hamish Richardson, Angus Richardson and Fergus Richardson]
OPENING/NEPAL MORNING “Sanya” – Except from "Shakuhachi and Japanese Flute" (Original Music Composed and performed by Michael Stearns) [Performed by Kohichiro Miyata]
MONK WITH BELL (Music Composed by Michael Stearns) [Performed by Michael Stearns]
VILLAGE BELL (Music Composed by Michael Stearns) [Performed by Michael Stearns]
ORGANICS Excerpt from “Mantra” from “Stabat Mater.” (Composed by Somei Satoh) [Performed by Somei Satoh]
KECAK (Recorded by David Brownlow) [Performed by The Kecak (Monkey Chant) Group from Bona, Bali, at the Gunung Kawi Temple]
AFRICAN JOURNEY from “Exotic Dance” (Composed by Anugama (aka Werner Hagen) and Sebastiano) [Performed by Anugama (aka Werner Hagen) and Sebastiano]
VARANASI SUNRISE Excerpt: “Wandering Saint” from “Expressions of Impressions” (Music Composed by Michael Stearns and L. Subramaniam) [Performed by Michael Stearns and L. Subramaniam]
BROKEN VOW – A PRAYER OF KALA RUPA / AN DAORACH BHEAC Excerpt: “A Prayer of Kala Rupa” from “Sacred Ceremonies” (Music Composed by Michael Stearns) [Performed by Michael Stearns and The Monks of the Dip Tse Chok Ling Monastery]
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Blu-ray Image Quality – ‘BARAKA’ is presented in an awesome and spectacular 1080p image and of course is shown in the 2.20:1 aspect ratio, especially with the help of Arrow Films, which is very impressive. The image is very sharp and very detailed, and often breathtakingly so. Even with the widest of images you view, it exhibits a tremendous clarity throughout the image frame throughout the film. With the facial expressions you can see all their expressions with good clarity also. Also outstanding are the profusion of colours that are very vivid, but natural at the same time, without looking like they have been digitally manipulated, especially with the 70mm format. Shadow detail in dark parts of the film is also of good image clarity. Some critics have said that the contrast looks slightly flat; well I did no notice this aspect to the look of the film. So all in all, this is a very impressive High-Definition transfer, but of course to really appreciate the IMAX film, it is always best to go to the cinema and see the original 70mm theatrical release, but despite this, Arrow Films have done a really good 1080p image presentation. Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – ‘BARAKA’ brings you via Arrow Films two spectacular 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio experience. The IMAX: ‘BARAKA’ film features excellent fidelity, with efficient use of every speaker in the system, and the world of ‘BARAKA’ comes alive through the wonders of all of your speakers, and where you experience the low frequency effects, are very effective. When you get to chapter 3 and the scene with the raging running water, the heavy rainstorm with chapter 9, the booming thunder that follows, or to which the sound of a buzzing chainsaw replies, or when you view the large tree that crashes to the ground, the end result is that you hear a devastating sonic moment that brings that corner of the world and experience to life. What is also spectacular is the soundtrack throughout the film where the bass contributes mightily to add additional realism and power to the film. The bass is incredible and precise, and how a good bass sounds like. Another amazing aspect of the soundtrack is the chirping birds early morning, a woman brushing the street, and a bell ringing in the distance in a scene found early in the film. The audio presentation also gives the impression of being so effortlessly natural that it provides the ideal complement to the amazing IMAX visuals. So all in all, the visuals are astounding, but the sound places listeners squarely in the middle of the IMAX experience. ‘BARAKA’ is a totally fulfilling sonic and visually experience, and of course a total treat for the ears that features one of the most robust and natural soundtracks I have heard so far. So once again, Arrow Films have done a really excellent job in bringing us this brilliant audio experience.
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Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: BARAKA: A Closer Look  [1080p / 480i] [1.21:1 / 1.78:1 / 1.37:1] [76:23] With this featurette, we get to view an extensive special documentary examines the origins of the production and the inspirations of the filmmakers, looking at the decision to create a nonverbal IMAX film and the advantages and challenges of such an endeavour. The creation of the film ‘CHRONOS’ is discussed, including its influence on the IMAX: ‘BARAKA’ film, the experiences and technologies the filmmakers brought to that film, and the development of newer and better cameras for the IMAX film is also examined. Shooting techniques, schedules, cost and time restraints, the process of recording sound, travelling to Kuwait to capture the aftermath of the Gulf War, various filmmaking pitfalls, and the film's theatrical release, among other areas of interest, are brought to the attention of the viewer. The subject matter of the IMAX: ‘BARAKA’ film is heavily discussed as well. Running almost as long as the film itself, this feature is a revelation into the filmmaking process of the ‘BARAKA’ film and is a must-watch for fans and budding filmmakers. On top of all that, throughout this featurette we get to view a plethora of clips for the IMAX: ‘BARAKA’ film. Contributors include: Ron Fricke [Cinematographer / Editor / Director], Alton Walpole [Associate Producer / Production Manager / Editor], Mark Magidson [Producer / Editor], Michael Stearns [Musical Director], Bruce Simballa [Key Grip], Michael Freeman [Location Coordinator: Cambodia], David Aubrey [Editor] and Lisa Gerrard [Chanteuse / Singer: Dead Can Dance].
Special Feature: Restoration  [1080p / 480i] [2.21:1 / 1.78:1 / 1.37:1] [7:04] With this featurette, we get to view a short but fascinating feature that closely examines the extraordinary restoration of the film IMAX: ‘BARAKA’ with an awe-inspiring experience in viewing the film as it was meant to be seen, and the process has been utilized to the most closely replication ever experienced. We are also informed that 65mm elements of the IMAX: ‘BARAKA’ film was scanned at 8K resolution and then fully restored to the latest HDCAM-SR standards at FotoKem. Then Blink Digital/Ascent Media took the HDCAM-SR Master and painstakingly encoded this very challenging imagery to what many are now saying is a new level of quality for the emerging Blu-ray format. This is believed to be the first ever 8K over-sampled feature restoration. Since its release on October 28th it has been nominated for Best Blu-ray of the Year, and is currently considered one Blu-ray Reference Disc to own. We saw screen examples from Blu-Ray sourced media. FotoKem scanned the IMAX: ‘BARAKA’ film at 8K (8192 x 3723) for superior Blu-ray imaging due to the 16:1 over-scanning. 144,000 frames scanned at 12.5 second per frame took 3 weeks (24/7) to complete which created 30 TB of data. At the end of this most interesting featurette, they mentioned that these are the “frontier days” for Blu-ray and that the industry must move quickly to address the glitches in most players and inspire consumer confidence in the format. Contributors include: Mark Magidson [Producer], Andrew Oran [Project Supervisor: FotoKem], Christopher Reyna [Restoration Producer] and Rick Lopez [Large Format Digital Producer at FotoKem].
BONUS: Original Theatrical Trailer ‘SAMSARA’  [1080p] [2.21:1] [1:03]
Finally, the IMAX: ‘BARAKA’  film is a really fascinating piece of an amazing visual art. The filmmakers have captured a compelling record of dramatic and spiritual moments as well as other scenes which give us pause to wonder about the fate of the planet and its creatures. The images are carried into our consciousness and connected to our feelings by the soul-stirring music and sound collages of composer Michael Stearns. Now well over 20 years old, ‘BARAKA’ still stands up as a film of beauty, subtle observation and a thought-provoking study into issues of environmentalism, religion and life itself. The Blu-ray has exceptional image and audio presentation, as well as a very informative and fascinating documentary. The true joy of Ron Fricke’s work is the truth of it. In a cinematic landscape dominated by special effects and imagined worlds, ‘BARAKA’ shows us that natural landscape and the wonders of this world do not need to be artificially created, but merely discovered. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
Le Cinema Paradiso