It doesn’t aim to entertain. There were parts I found disturbing, parts I found so disturbing that I couldn’t watch, and parts I couldn’t take my eyes off. I think it’s probably the most powerful film I’ve ever seen. It takes you on a rollercoaster ride up to the heaven of the exquisite, down to the hell of the human condition, back up to heaven for lesson number two, and then settles you back onto the plain of an endless desert. I came away full of wide eyed wonder, having been more engrossed and unsettled than entertained. I found myself desperate for the big spaceship from a superior alien culture to descend from the heavens and set about turning the guns to plastic, freeing all the battery-farmed animals, and collecting all the money from all the bank accounts and distributing the proceeds on a more even basis.
But then I had a question: why did they call it Samsara? In Buddhist philosophy, Samsara is not just the world of phenomenal form, but also the state of mind which is trapped in the illusion that such a world represents reality. So is the film merely a travelogue from one extreme of the phenomenal world to the other, or should it be seen as something like a Buddhist sand mandala – an intricate piece of art made with skill, dedication and infinite patience, and then swept away to demonstrate that it’s all just an illusion made of coloured dust?
Must talk to Mel about this. She used to be a Buddhist.