With blockbusters focusing on CG spectacle, and high-profile filmmakers rushing towards the latest digital innovations, one cinematic option often gets left behind: the grandeur of 70mm. Hollywood’s own high-resolution alternative to 35mm film, the format was used to shoot the likes of Lawrence of Arabia and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Now filmmakers Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson have created a new film shot entirely on the format: Samsara.

A follow-up to 1992’s Baraka, the film eschews dialogue and traditional narrative techniques. Instead, it uses striking visuals and music to take viewers on an emotional exploration of the world around us — and of the oft-unseen cause and effect behind things we usually take for granted (see our review below). Shot over five years in 25 different countries, it’s a surprisingly affecting film — not just for the glorious images it presents, but for the darkness and hope it exudes as well.

I spoke with Fricke (director and cinematographer) and Magidson (producer) about the creative process behind Samsara, and the benefits of using 70mm in a digital world.