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samsara

Challenging what is possible when it comes to cinematic visuals is nothing new for moviemakers Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson. In 1985, they utilized time-lapse cinematography to illustrate the passing of time in the documentary short Chronos. Then their 1992 documentary, Baraka, was the first film in more than two decades to employ the 70mm Todd-AO format.

For their latest collaboration, the moviemakers traveled to 25 countries on five continents—over the course of five years—to shoot Samsara (a Sanskrit term meaning “the ever turning wheel of life”) on 70mm film. The film employs images of sacred places, disaster zones, industrial complexes and natural wonders to illustrate the connection between humanity and nature. Here, the film’s writer-producer-editor takes us on a sneak peek world photo tour of the making of the film. For the full article, pick up MM‘s 100th edition on newsstands!

One of the highlights of all of our shoots, we had perfect weather in a hot air balloon over the temples in Pagan in Myanmar. The balloon drifted in a perfect line to reveal the visual breadth of this region. This helped make up for many other moments over the course of our filming where the weather was no so accommodating.

This is a shot from a factory in Tokyo that makes life-sized sex dolls. As they take form and the faces are painted, they take on an ambiguity that makes the stare from this doll striking. The faces are remarkably realistic.

This portrait was taken in Yoyogi Park, a public park in Tokyo. Teenagers go there to express their individuality by developing complicated and layered visual personas—often without their parents’ knowledge.

These iconic statues were built about 2,000 years ago on Mount Nemrut in Eastern Turkey by King Antiochus. They represent him as well as several Greek and Iranian gods. We filmed these under the night sky in time-lapse, the faces looking out at the horizon. These shoots were memorable for the bitter cold nights we experienced on the mountain, for which we were barely prepared.

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