The Non-Verbal Film Baraka is by Ron Frick

Categories: Film

It is a wonderful film depicting the broadened image of mutual connections between God’s creations. Displaying all of the aspects of world cultures and nature, there were several symbolisms and literary terms showcased in each frame of this documentary that emphasizes each culture and element. Furthermore, the application of the dense and ominous music is a major contribution to the overall imagery and flow of the movie. The film will leave the viewer in a sort of trance while experiencing the different parts of the cosmic world.

Overall, this film had a riveting spiritual impact and it undoubtedly held my attention. The vast picture of the world's diversity, symbolism, musical effects, and alluring scenes makes this film worth the watch.

Firstly, the film is based on the big picture; the title. The term Baraka means ‘spirit’ of ‘God’ in Arabic. The themes are spiritual enlightenment, the wheel of life, world culture, and connection with nature. Different world religions, traditional outfits, places of worship, rituals, chants, and ancient ruins were displayed as well.

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During the big picture unit, students learned that music brings a sense of community and causes us to go into a trance. They can see how they enforce a powerful role during the Bali Temple scene, Japanese Silent Scream scene, and Maasai Mara dance scene. The title Baraka suits the film since the audience can see different ways people worship their God(s) and a variety of religious practices. In addition, many literary terms can be spotted throughout the film, such as the Geisha performance which symbolized the circle of life.

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Lots of other symbols, metaphors and hidden messages were given throughout the film. These can be found in the rock art or gunbim of Kakadu National Park, and the Buddha statue of Preah Khan Temple in Angkor. Other symbols can be spotted in the variety of tribesmen present in the film, as well as certain religious peoples. They were used to differentiate the different tribes’ peoples, and usually represented nature’s elements or animals. As for the religious peoples, they wore special decorations, and ornaments and dressed in certain ways to represent spiritual symbols. In addition, Imagery was also used in the film. For example, the transition from the New York road congestion to the Silent Scream performance represents the impact of city life on one's spiritual well-being. Also, the progression from the Boli temple ritual to the active volcano creates a sense of rising action. Also, the chants add a lot of significance to the film as they create a state of trance. Chants are also powerful in a therapeutic way and heal the soul. For example, the tribal chants during dance rituals added a festive taste to the scene. The lack of background music from previous scenes made us feel drawn into the scene and depicts how important rituals are to tribes. Lastly, the butterfly effect can also be found in the film. It was present in the Ta Prohm forest scene. A dying ancient tree got cut during the storm, which led to the scurrying of ants and the native man becoming distraught.

Secondly, the music contributed hugely to the overall experience of the film. From emotion-inducing soulful music that leads to community building and love to inauspicious. The music soundtracks are produced by Michael Stearns. The score is written by Michael Stearns and features music by, among others, Dead Can Dance, L. Suaccelerandobramaniam, Ciro Hurtado, Inkuyo, Brother, Anugama & Sebastiano, and David Hykes. As mentioned in class, music is very,.,and  Sound can be manipulated by humans, while humans can be manipulated by sound itself. The dancing women from Maasai Mara were in syncopation and hypnotized by the rhythm as shown in the film. In another example, the audience notices the dancing dervishes of Istanbul. They also seem to be in a state of trance to their music. The wide range of music used, cymatics, musicianship present, ominous sounds, and sacred music added a great emotional touch to the overall film. The music used in the film was real music which showcased 'Love. Emotion. Beauty. Expression. Harmony. Communication. Spiritual. Natural. Vibration. God!” Meanwhile, other films usually use electronic or synthetic pop music and “ are produced without the intervention of musicians, being put together on a computer from a repertoire of standard effects.” In addition, many ethical and spiritual instruments were used. Such asaccelerando the Shakuhachi flute users for meditation in the Japanese snow monkey scene. The flute was played to create a zen meditation environment rather than for musical purposes. Also, the landfill of Calcutta, Rio De Janeiro, and Phnom Penh scenes became heartfelt when The Host Of Seraphim began playing in the background. The introductory scene depicted a peaceful snow monkey relaxing in ha accelerandoot spring while Shakuhachi was playing in the background. This showcases the meaning behind that one particular scene. The drums used during the New York congestion scene had a very different feel than the drum used during the active volcano scene in Mount Bromo Valley. The drum was of froaccelerandoand accelerandexcitingly and was upbeat like Muzak. The accelerando in that scene felt more hyper and rushed. The dynamics did not change as drastic with the merengue drums, as the bass drums did. Meanwhile, the drum used in the volcano scene had an increased dreading and dramatic feel as the accelando was added. The two drum beats had different meter signatures too which also contributed to their overall feeling. The addition of the growing sirens at the Silent Scream scene after the New York scene also added a sense of increased anxiety versus the sense of rising action. One scene had no population while the other held a, mass population. The subway scene, Chicken factory, and pulse of never-ending stifling traffic created a hyperventilating atmosphere. Also the removal of background music and silence present between the Kyoto monk at the temple and the Japanese city had a different feel to it as well. The silence with the temple monk was a peaceful quiet sound while the city had a ghost town feeling. Iof from the end, the music had a huge positive impact on the overall film experience.

Lastly, the director’s desired intention was to create an educational yet striking cinematic experience. Overall, the documentary would cause the viewer to experience a vast amount of emotional factors. Baraka may be a non-narrated film, but was very much alive.

The film director intended it to be a spiritual love story. One review described the film as “a quest to one man's struggle to find spiritual Enlightenment by renouncing the world.” In addition, my second week viewing the film was very interesting compared to the first. The first time I watched it was very confusing. I did not understand at all what was going on. I just saw the big picture idea of the film. My notes were very short and vague too compared to the following time I watched the film. I honestly thought the film was a laughing stock and a complete bore. In general, the film reminded me of a BBC documentary or something from National Geographic but without narrative. However, it was more intriguing the second time I watched it with the class. With the help of some fellow students, I learned to look at the details in each frame. Then, I started seeing the film in a completely different angle during the second week. I began viewing the film more positively and found beauty in each scenario. I learned more about the instrumental aspect of inland history and understood more than I did before. I learned about different parts of the world, theand special intentions of many ethnic instruments and rituals. Simply, I appreciated the documentary more after interpreting the film in detail instead of generalizing over-generalizing the messages. The same occurred after watching Samara as well. I began seeing the film sequel in a very different light after the class discussion. After realizing the beauty in every frame of these two films, they helped me appreciate their music and meanings better. In a way, the class discunarrationme the narrations I desperately needed. I became aware of the presence of peace, beauty, community, and love in scenes in both films. I also learned about many places around the world such as Mecca, Istanbul, Tibet, Jerusalem, and Kata Tjuta National Park. In addition, the teacher’s assistant informed us about the many sacred instruments used, such as Gamelan, Shaman throat vocals, and Shakuhachi. When listening, I found the nature sounds calming, such as the thunder, waves, waterfall, wind, Kuwaiti oil fires, and bird songs. However, I did not appreciate those kinds of music before as much as I do now. They were spiritual, therapeutic, and soul-fulfilling. As a result, I can see from two perspectives as to why some enjoyed the film while others found it a bore.

In conclusion, Baraka showcased many different musical attributes which held an assortment of emotions and personal meaning to each scene in the film. Emotional, dense, vibrant, and ominous, each frame in the movie held significance to each tribe and ritual. Baraka flows and captures its audience with the multiple auras in each scene and keeps the viewers entranced yet alert. Each scene had natural and spiritualistic musical effects and symbolism that contributed to the imagery and flow. The diversity and symbolism in the music hold the attention and leave an impact on the audience.

Updated: May 24, 2022
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The Non-Verbal Film Baraka is by Ron Frick. (2022, May 24). Retrieved from

The Non-Verbal Film Baraka is by Ron Frick essay
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