Religious Philosophy Baraka A Film Term Paper

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The fact that all of these traditions make the same truth-claims and all believers believe with equal intensity, yet fall short of fully capturing the earth's majesty, calls into question the limits of human being's ability to find a comprehensive explanation for the earth. All the earth, even the weather, not simply the animate elements have power. Ultimately control is impossible, and even the filmmakers are limited in time and scope to how much time and geographical breadth they can capture in art.

The film's title "Baraka" is a Sufi word that means, alternately translated, "essence or breath" or "blessing" (Hinson 1993). This suggests that the film is supposed to capture the essence of life on the planet, and by showing a diversity of images, the camera functions as a kind of blessing upon everything that falls under the omniscient gaze of the filmmaker. "The film allows us to see the actual interconnectedness of all things in the world, and to appreciate its patterns and symmetries and its innate sense of balance and proportion" (Hinson 2007). Yet the one paradox to this pantheism is that cinema is indeed a man-made creation, and without cinema, no viewer could appreciate "Baraka" and its message.

Although the film encourages a holistic view of nature, and tends to reduce humanity's place in the universe, ultimately its aim is to move and to change the mind and views of its human audience in a highly specific and particularistic way. "They've assembled their images as a kind of 'guided meditation' -- as they have called it -- created for the purpose of examining 'man's relationship to the eternal'" (Hinson, 1993). This meditation does not guide the viewer outside of nature, although the viewer must leave nature to enter the theater to see it. However, it takes the viewer above and beyond the constraints of a human's eye view through the technology of cinema. It forces the individual to see the place of humanity from a god's eye view, even while it stresses the dependence of human beings on the vagarities of the environment and natural processes.

The movie 'Baraka' shows us that humans are not extremely different, but rather that all humans are and must be thought of as interrelated. The movie explores the many ways that human societies adapt to their surroundings, and in doing so, it also shows us that all human societies adapt in similar ways. Although humans themselves are diverse, their diversity pales in comparison to the diversity of the earth itself" (the Movie Baraka as Evidence of a Human Cultural Legacy," Anthology of Ideas, 2006). If there is a religion its broad-sweeping lens endorses, it is the religion of environmentalism, as we as a species are so dependant upon the planet, and because humans are equally dependant upon the natural cycles of the world for sustenance.

However, for many filmgoers, seeing the film may be a religious experience of meditation, even if the film takes place in a secular institution like a movie theater and shows what are often seen as profane, ordinary aspects of human existence as well as exalted spiritual images. By pairing what is falsely demarcated as only sacred, or only profane together, and showing that they are all part of the ebb and flow of life on earth, a viewer receives the message that all is one, and there is spirituality to be found even in the rawest, most untouched, and most ordinary aspects of nature. Even where there is no humanity to be found, spirituality is evident, although this spirituality is created by the magic of human-created cinema.

Works Cited

Baraka." Directed by Ron Fricke. 1992.

Brussat, Frederic & Mary Ann Brussat. "Baraka." Spirituality and Practice. 1993.

13 Nov 2007.

Ebert, Roger. "Baraka." The Chicago-Sun Times. 12 Nov 1993. 13 Nov 2007.

Hinson, Hal. "Baraka." The Washington Post. 27 Oct 1993. 13 Nov 2007.

The Movie Baraka as Evidence of a Human Cultural Legacy." Anthology of Ideas.

2006. 13 Nov 2007.[continue]

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