Silence is deafening

My brother has a big collection of documentaries and movies very different to my taste. I never realized just how different. I, enveloped in summer break boredom, took to his laptop and decided to give one of his movies a chance. Little did I know, how to never, and I mean “never” judge a book by its cover. Or in this case, the movie by its title.

Baraka was the name of the particular movie I, sadly, chose. Baraka is a 1992 non-narrative film directed by Ron Fricke. By the title, it seemed interesting, as Baraka means blessing in many languages.

Amongst other things.

The movie started, high definition, slow motion shots of a snowy mountain. Okay… 1 minute. Same mountain. 4 minutes. The same mountain- No wait, this time, and an eagle flew across it in slow motion. Oh! Change! Oh no wait. The same mountain, just a different shot. Oh finally! Something new! Oops, wrong again. A leaf this time; And a leaf covered in slow flakes stayed for a minimum of 3 minutes. I didn’t really know what to expect so I just sat there, waiting for it to start. I asked my brother who was in the same room, about the movie, and when it would start. It so happened that he hadn’t seen it yet. He downloaded it but hadn’t had the time to sit through. So he told me to wait till the characters came or someone spoke. I waited. And waited and waited and waited. And YES! From the mountain, to the leaf, to a few other rocks, came something else, not a human. Not an actor, but a baboon. Yup, a Japanese Macaque in fact. The “Snow monkey” as per its name in colloquial terms, was sitting in a spring by the same mountain which had been given a bit too much importance earlier. And just like the mountain and the leaf. The monkey got several, slow motion shots which made me start praying for the movie to actually start. And to top it all off, the background music was such to put a dragon to sleep. At long last, the screen turned black, and the name Baraka appeared and finally, the movie started; or so I thought.

The next scene was of a rural place in north China. I expected the camera to shift into a house to show the family of the hero or heroine having a nice meal before the action began, but no, the camera stayed in one place. And old people, in very slow motion, walked past with the same off-putting background music. I waited, again, for someone to speak. And no one did. Nothing dramatic happened. No good looking actor appeared. No bad guys. Nothing. Nada. When the long awaited change came, it came with another groan from me. The camera had shifted to the close up of a very, very old Chinese lady. Who, funnily enough, was staring into the abyss. The camera zoomed in on her face and the wrinkles and freckles became ever more prominent. I waited for her to start off with an old croaky voice and say “4 score and 3 years ago, when I was a little girl….” But her lips never moved. She kept staring into the abyss and the camera zoomed in till it got lost in the pupil of her eye to a new scene. The place they showed now was somewhere near the Galapagos Islands because of the tropical scenery. And again, they showed slow motion, 5 minute shots of bugs, leaves, trees and rocks. My patience was wearing thin and I exclaimed “I’m sick of rocks and leaves! I want humans who talk!”

DO SOMETHING ALREADY!!!

I forwarded the movie around 15 minutes, and suddenly, the sight of around 200 almost nude men performing a very bizarre ritual in the middle of a tropical forest took over the computer screen. I jumped in my seat and turned to my brother with wide eyes and a stunned look on my face to find him rolling around laughing himself to tears. Luckily, I had forwarded enough for the ritual scene to last only a few more seconds because the images of slow moving, or not moving at all nature, took over once more. And when the geographic place had changed to a desert like area, and we were welcomed with another rock, I found myself so very glad to see another “pathar!” as I had put it so zealously.

From scorpions, snakes, vultures and wild animals, I realized Baraka had reached Africa. After a long session of rock shots and moving clouds, African tribal people got the spot light. Seeing people, I said to my brother, “if these people start going crazy with their rituals too, I’m not watching this anymore.” And of course, the scene moved to African people with painted faces dancing around a fire and having another, completely “ajeeb-o-ghareeb” ritual as I can plainly put it. From then on, I had had enough. I kept forwarding every time the image of an inanimate object stayed for more than 30 seconds. And I had come across uncanny behavior by people from highly irregular too many times for comfort.

The movie reached developed countries as it neared its end. And as strange as the concept of shooting everything in slow motion seems, that’s exactly what was happening. There was a 5 minute shot of an oblivious man wiping his sweat in slow motion. And a very aware Japanese man, dressed in strange clothes and his face painted completely white, having some sort of seizure or fit of a very disturbing degree. I don’t really know what it didn’t show. I mean really, from mass production of chickens, to cigarette making, public bathing, traffic chaos and just plain madness. Even now, I don’t know what Baraka tried to show. And what it meant. Just that I would never watch it again or advise anyone else to watch it, if they don’t want to be bored out of their minds.

… cause you’re too busy sleeping through it.

I finished the movie and realized that that the movie I chose was a completely silent movie; and not at all a blessing. It had no plot, no story line, no actors, no script and no dialogues. Oh! And I also realized that I wasted almost 2 hours of my life… 2 hours that I’m never getting back… Ever! I learnt my lesson, to “never” judge a book by its cover. And frankly, this movie was made to teach patience; the hard way.

This article was written by Fatima Hamid.

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6 Comments on “Silence is deafening”

  1. Kashan
    September 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    i gotta watch this movie

  2. Sohail
    September 4, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    a little brain on ur side, a little google, nd IMDB would have told u it HAS NO PLOT. would have atleast save 1hr 59 mins of ur life..

  3. Bukha
    September 3, 2011 at 4:17 am #

    Itx well written, Excellent Job done! But yr kasam se ur article teaches patience THE HARDER WAY =P
    I was actually thinking of it to be something else, dun know why i didn’t read “Silence is Deafening” anywhere before reading the article.
    But truly love the way u express ur feelings n the situations!

  4. monster
    September 2, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    BARAKA IS AWESOME!!!

  5. Mashie
    September 2, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    Awesome Fati.. =D I like the humour and the lesson.. Good Job

  6. Delilah
    September 2, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    explaining yuur annoyed feelings couldn’t be more accurate :D..it happened to me so many times but never thought of putting them into words like yuu did, its Incredible.Very Nicely written Fatima (: Good Job.

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