Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

Unrated  |   |  Documentary, Music  |  24 August 1983 (France)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 24,699 users  
Reviews: 185 user | 86 critic

A collection of expertly photographed phenomena with no conventional plot. The footage focuses on nature, humanity and the relationship between them.


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5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Uncredited cast:
Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)


This documentary looks at the world and more specifically the effect man has had on the landscape and the environment. Without narration, the film shows the world in a pristine condition and untouched: blue skies, beautiful landscapes and endless vistas. The man-made world is much less appealing. Essentially a montage using a variety of film techniques to provide a visually stunning montage of images. Written by garykmcd

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October 4, 1982. More than 5,000 people filled the sold out Radio City Music Hall to experience a remarkable film event. That event was the world premiere of KOYAANISQATSI. Now everyone can share the power of that experience. See more »


Documentary | Music


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Official Sites:


Release Date:

24 August 1983 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Godfrey Reggio originally wanted an uninterpretable symbol as the title of the film, but instead settled on "Koyaanisqatsi", from an obscure language (Hopi) that he said "had no emotional baggage attached to it" due to its obscurity. See more »


About an hour into the movie, the camera operator is reflected in the elevator's glass window as the elevator passes "between" floors while shooting the escalators. See more »


[last lines]
title card: Translation of the Hopi Prophecies sung in the film: "If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster." - "Near the Day of Purification, there will be cobwebs spun back and forth in the sky." - "A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky, which could burn the land and boil the oceans."
See more »


Edited from Star Trek: Day of the Dove (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

Out of balance
8 February 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

Godfrey Reggio's magnificent documentary "Koyaanitsqatsi" was an amazing experience when it first came out more than twenty years ago. Watching for a second time, this time in DVD format, one realizes how this movie makes the case that it must be seen in the big screen in order to get all the brilliant cinematography in its proper perspective. Even watching it in a 32 plasma screen, one realizes it pales in comparison when projected on a larger movie theater screen.

The images that are presented in the film are just beyond belief. The fantastic music score by that genius, Phillip Glass, compliments and enhances our experience. This film will live forever in spite of some of the comments submitted to this forum, because it deals with universal themes that will stay with us on this planet while human life will exist. This was pioneer movie making that later on became main stream. The originality being in the way the director presents the different sections in the film with some unusual photography that, while imitated, remains the standard for comparison with any new so called latest technique and innovation.

Kudos to Mr. Reggio, Mr. Glass and the people behind this gorgeous film.

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