The Coexistence of Life and Death in Baraka, by Ron Fricke
The coexistence of life and death in Baraka, by Ron Fricke Why do people crowd a city and create problems for themselves? In 1992, Ron Fricke released the film Baraka, a film with no dialogue, and an inspiring soundtrack played over provocative scenes, typically comparing natural humans in their habitat to human damage and crowding. In two scenes, a big, dirty apartment complex is shown in contrast to a large, unclean cemetery, creating juxtaposition between the two. In the first scene, there are numerous buildings, showing that as the world population increases, conditions worsen as humans fight for space.
The Kowloon walled city has a twisting series of stairways, alleys, and cat walks. These buildings, wrapped around an old military fort, are all at least 10 stories high, and dotted with clothes lines, water barrels and trash. The site was evicted and demolished in 1992. In the distance, a bustling city pays no attention to the stained, dirty concrete buildings, where 33,000 occupants face daily poverty in 250 square foot apartments. What is the result of such overcrowding? The industrial revolution of the 19th century showed us the answer. A substantial amount of residents lived around the factories, to shorten their commute.
As population density increased, conditions soon became deplorable. To solve this problem, 19th century leaders introduced public transportation, which spread people out, and created a sustainable environment. In a following scene, the camera pans out to La Ciudad Blanca, Ecuador, an enormous grave yard, with multi level complexes of dirty white graves. Each grave has a personal adornment, from their loved ones. From candles to pictures, the decorations make every box look a little more humanized. It is strangely beautiful, with the messages and the grass growing through cracks in the pavement.
This scene shows that as a world, when we get overcrowded, we must overcrowd other aspects of life. This really shows that death is a part of life as life is a part of death. These two juxtaposed scenes show how overcrowding is an issue and it’s hard to put a face on a statistic. The idea of putting a huge city and a huge cemetery together makes a point, that the present city solution has been adopted in cemeteries. The cycle of poverty comes into play, when so many are trapped in one place, with no room to improve; they end up in the same spot after life, and leave their children in the same rut.
This idea was explored in Sandra Cisneros’s book, The House on Mango Street, where Esperanza realizes the only way out of the cycle is through hard work and higher education. The film Baraka teaches us many lessons, including the fact of overcrowding, and the harm it has caused, and will cause. In the walled city, thousands of people went without basic sanitation, and lived in 250 square feet or less, often working all day to provide for there families. When trapped in this cycle, you will end up in the same state of poverty as you were in during life. Hard work is the key of success and getting out of poverty.