My favorite film of 2012 is Ron Fricke’s Samsara. This is the kind of movie I consider to be great cinema: Amazing imagery set to gorgeous music. Give me those two things and I’m pretty damn satisfied.
Cinema has many values. Story and dialogue are two of them but I am opposed the notion that the two are necessary in all movies. Samsara is a vivid experience of high-end cinematography covering places all over the world from the haunting ruins of Katrina to the unreal luxury of Dubai and then the beauty of ancient temples to sad inhumane food processing plants –Movies like this one are just trying to frame life on earth and provide unforgettable images.
There may be an intended message embedded but this film, like Fricke’s previous masterpiece, Baraka and in the 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi for which he did cinematography, but the message isn’t essential. His movies are beautiful because they don’t use words. They utilize seeing a movie as a hypnotic kind of experience where you can let it wash over you. I think the Academy Awards have shown good taste this year, but I’m always mystified as to why there is no place in any of their categories for greatness like Samsara.