Baraka is a Documentary directed and photographed by Koyaanisqatsi cinematographer Ron Fricke and released in 1992. Its topic is, quite simply, planet Earth itself, and the sentient species that calls it home. The entire movie is nothing but Scenery Porn. Imagine our planet filmed as though it were Pandora and you're halfway there.
Filming was done in 152 locations in 24 different countries around the world. In order to get the full effect, it was shot in the special Todd-AO 70 mm format (using a camera built by Fricke himself), the only film since 1971 to have used such a format, and in 2008 became the first-ever film scanned with 8K resolution.
A sequel, also directed by Ron Fricke and titled Samsara, was released in 2011.
Tropes featured in Baraka include:
- The '80s: The clothing styles as shown in the subway scenes scream this.
- Aside Glance: One of the Polish foundry workers briefly looked at the camera.
- Book Ends: The movie begins and ends with an eclipse and a showcase of various religions.
- Cultural Blending: Some of the music are played by instruments from different countries. A music piece would be played by various instruments.
- Humans Are Flawed: The coal-mining sequence implies environmental degradation at the hands of humanity, the chicken factory farm followed by an anguished scream from a Kabuki actress implies mass dehumanization and animal abuse, and the Buddhist monk walking down a busy street and ignored by all implies so many humans are caught up in their day to day life that they ignore humanity.
- Japan Takes Over the World: Most of the busy, urban scenes take place in Japan, as do the assembly lines for computer parts that appear right before them, giving an impression of this.
- Match Cut: There's a few of them, which adds to the "connected-ness" theme of the film:
- At the beginning, the Japanese macaque in the hot spring suddenly lift sits head up and we get a briefly glimpse of the moving starfield.
- A Buddhist light offering is succeeded by an oil fire in Kuwait.
- A flock of bird flying away, as if scared off by the chanting of the Aboriginals in the previous scene.
- The cigarette factory, then the next scene includes a man smoking.
- A Yazuka man with tattoos all over his body and a South American native boy with body ornaments.
- Foundry furnaces in Poland are followed by a shot of the ovens in Auschwitz.
- National Geographic Nudity: The children of Caiapó Village in the Amazon are wearing nothing but brightly colored sashes made of strings. One close panning shot showing them holding hands incidentally highlights that their genitals are uncovered.
- Nightmare Face: The Kabuki actress after the chicken scene gives a truly horrifying one.
- No Plot? No Problem!: The movie exists just to show the world we live in.
- Over Crank: Used to place emphasis on mundane or even almost-fantastic shots, ranging from simple nature to coal fires.
- Scenery Porn: There are a great deal of detailed, lovingly-shot landscapes, ranging from the streets of Japan to life among rainforests in close-up.
- Silence Is Golden: There is no dialogue at all in this movie, save the Balinese monkey chant. In fact, there is hardly any digetic sound.
- Slow Motion: Some scenes play in slow motions, such as a man about to ring a large Japanese bell cutting into a Kichwa Tembo ceremony where one person is jumping
- Thousand-Yard Stare: Some scenes have someone or groups staring at the camera; this is most prominent in the Polish coal workers, who stare deadened at the fires as the camera drifts past.
- Time Lapse: With both high and low shutter speeds. Ron Fricke had 70mm cameras built specifically to do this. One such shot is in the World Trade Center subway station, with numerous people taking the escalators.
- Total Eclipse of the Plot: Done over the opening title.
- Under Crank: Used to emphasize unnatural humanity or the fast pace of life, especially in scenes of cities.
- The World Is Just Awesome: The whole point of the movie.