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Parts of our world still aren't commercialized by shallow Western "McCulture"; what's surprising is how much we haven't ruined, and that although the great age of discoveries on land seems over, "Baraka," a 96-minute travelog and meditation on our planet, offers real hope. Director Fricke took a 70-mm camera all over the world, witnessing some ordinary sights (city traffic), some as breath-taking (a solar eclipse), and desperate scavengers at Calcutta garbage dumps. Fricke collaborated on the 1983 "Koyannisquatsi," by Geoffrey Reggio, which clearly influenced "Baraka." Fricke also uses time-lapse camera-work to capture clouds and crowds, which might seem gimmicky, but it's a visual demonstration of how fleeting life is, and makes Earth and her inhabitants seem touchingly fragile.
A stronghold of religion is revealed, from the Pope in St. Paul's, to rabbis at the Wailing Wall, from monks in ancient temples, to a tribe of chanters waving their arms like trees in a storm, led by a man immensely pleased to be at the center of such ecstasy. Michael Stearns's music includes ethnic chants and Western sounds, so the score is an anthology of sound, evoking the souls of all of the strange places we're seeing.

Of course the message is that we must love and respect our planet. Probably very few people in pro-ecology T-shirts think of becoming vegetarian so grains can feed everyone on the planet instead of being converted into meat to feed a few. But this movie shows us the reason to care enough to do that.
Director(s): Ron Fricke
Writer(s): Ron Fricke
Cast: the earth and its inhabitants
Release Date: 1993   
Keyword: Koyannisquatsi, world photography
Target Age: 10+   Category: environment
Documentary: yes
Language: English   Reviewer's Name: Micah
Review: http://MRQE
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Boys of Baraka (The)

84 min.
A group of at-risk youths from Baltimore, Maryland are sent 10,000 miles away to an experimental boarding school in Kenya, Africa. The boys initially express their homesickness and unhappiness, but they're also removed from dangers faced back at home, such as gang violence, drugs, etc. Consequently, the boys are able to open up and explore, which proves to positively affect their educational performance.
Director(s): Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady
Writer(s): Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady
Cast: Devon Brown, Darius Chambers, Edward Bernard Green Jr., Richard Keyser, Justin Mackall, Montrey Moore, Romesh Vance
Release Date: 2005   
Keyword: Kenya, Africa, America, African American, poverty, education
Target Age: All ages   Category: institutional issues
Documentary: no
Language: English   Reviewer's Name: Ellie
Purchase: NA

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