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Koyaanisqatsi
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Koyaanisqatsi (1982) More at IMDbPro »

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Koyaanisqatsi -- A motion picture essay which takes a revealing and shocking look at modern life and its imbalances.  The first film in a trilogy which was followed by Powaqatsi.

Overview

User Rating:
8.3/10   21,389 votes »
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Down 4% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Contact:
View company contact information for Koyaanisqatsi on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
24 August 1983 (France) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
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 »
Plot:
A movie with no conventional plot: merely a collection of expertly photographed scenes. Subject matter has a highly environmental theme. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
5 wins & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Wonderful Experimental Documentary See more (179 total) »

Cast

  (in alphabetical order) (verified as complete)

Lou Dobbs ... Himself (uncredited)
Ted Koppel ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Directed by
Godfrey Reggio 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Ron Fricke 
Michael Hoenig 
Godfrey Reggio 
Alton Walpole 

Produced by
Francis Ford Coppola .... executive producer
Mel Lawrence .... associate producer
Roger McNew .... associate producer
T. Michael Powers .... associate producer
Godfrey Reggio .... producer
Lawrence Taub .... associate producer (as Lawrence S. Taub)
Alton Walpole .... associate producer
 
Original Music by
Philip Glass 
 
Cinematography by
Ron Fricke 
 
Film Editing by
Ron Fricke 
Alton Walpole 
 
Sound Department
David Brownlow .... sound effects recordist
Doc Goldstein .... audio technical assistant
David W. Gray .... stereo sound consultant: Dolby
David B. Hancock .... organ location recording
Joe Lopes .... recording engineer: RCA Studios
Dominick Maita .... recording engineer: RPM Studios
Steve Maslow .... sound re-recording mixer
Tom Meloney .... dubbing machine recordist
David Rivas .... sound effects editor
David Rivas .... sound effects recordist
Thomas Scott .... sound consultant (as Tom Scott)
Michael Stocker .... audio and electronic engineering
Michael Stocker .... sound effects recordist
Randy Thom .... sound effects recordist
 
Visual Effects by
Thomas Edmon .... optical consultant
Jane Gudwin .... optical consultant
Wayne V. McGee .... optical consultant
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Dean Alatzas .... grip
Neil Bockman .... assistant camera
David Brownlow .... assistant camera
Christine Gibson .... associate cinematographer
Phillip Harrington .... still photographer: microchip
Hillary Harris .... additional cinematographer
Roy Hememnez .... grip
Robert Hill .... assistant camera
Karl Kernberger .... still photographer: rock painting
Reinhard Lichter .... special camera modification
Wayne V. McGee .... still photographer: animation
Roger McNew .... assistant camera
Mark Muich .... grip
Robert Palmer .... grip
Louie Schwartzberg .... additional cinematographer (as Louis Schwartzberg)
Bruce Hill .... ultra high speed photography (uncredited)
 
Editorial Department
Cheryl Bloch .... second assistant editor
Gary Burritt .... negative cutter
Tim Fennell .... second assistant editor
Bob Hagans .... color timer
Robert Hill .... assistant editor
Dennis Jakob .... consultant: editing
Tove Johnson .... assistant editor
Susan Marcinkus .... assistant editor
Ian Masters .... post-production consultant
Anne Miller .... associate editor
Matvey Shatz .... color timer
 
Music Department
Walter Bachauer .... music consultant
Seymour Barab .... musician: cello (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
John Beal .... musician: bass (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Jean Dane .... musician: cello (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Allan Dean .... musician: french horn (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Walter Deck .... musician: tuba (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
George Flynn .... musician: trombone (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Jon Gibson .... musician: saxophone (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Peter Gordon .... musician: french horn (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Mark Gould .... musician: trumpet (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Nancy Hemmings .... musician: Tibetan bells
Lowell Hershey .... musician: trumpet (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Michael Hoenig .... composer: additional music
Michael Hoenig .... musical director
Theodore Israel .... musician: viola (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Jill Jaffe .... musician: viola (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Jack Kripl .... musician: saxophone, flute and clarinet (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Jack Kripl .... musicians' contractor
Beverley Lauridsen .... musician: cello (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Charles Lewis .... musician: trumpet (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Marcia Mikulak .... music consultant
Bob Mintzer .... musician: saxophone and bass clarinet (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Sharon Moe .... musician: french horn (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Kermit Moore .... musician: cello (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Kurt Munkacsi .... music producer: Philip Glass music
Tom Nyfenger .... musician: piccolo and flute (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Keith O'Quinn .... musician: bass trombone (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Richard Peck .... musician: saxophone (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Philip Glass Ensemble .... music performed by
Samuel Pilafian .... musician: viola (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Susan Pray .... musician: viola (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
James Pugh .... musician: tuba (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Albert Richmond .... musician: trombone (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Michael Riesman .... conductor: Philip Glass music
Michael Riesman .... musician: keyboards (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Michael Riesman .... musician: solo organ
Russell Rizner .... musician: french horn (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Bob Smith .... musician: trombone (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Lew Soloff .... musician: trumpet (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Brooks Tillotson .... musician: french horn (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
Henry Wolff .... musician: Tibetan bells
Frederic Zlotkin .... musician: bass (as The Philip Glass Ensemble)
 
Other crew
Bruce Adams .... pilot: aerial cinematography
Paul Alexander .... special assistant: Philip Glass
Walter Bachauer .... script editor
Neil Bockman .... location access
Larry Browne .... production assistant
Cybele Carpenter .... special consultant to director
Russ Deal .... explosive engineer
Elizabeth Emerson .... pilot: aerial cinematography
Ronald B. Gold .... location access
Ronald P. Gold .... distribution researcher
Steve Goldin .... coordinator: IRE
Sally Jackson .... production assistant
John Kimmey .... consultant: Hopi prophecy
Dennis Kootshongsie .... consultant: Hopi prophecy
James Kootshongsie .... consultant: Hopi prophecy
Jeffrey Lew .... special consultant to director
Michael Lowatewama .... consultant: Hopi prophecy
Michael Lowatewama .... linguistic research on title
Ekkehart Malotki .... consultant: Hopi prophecy (as Dr. Ekkehart Malotki)
Ekkehart Malotki .... linguistic research on title (as Dr. Ekkehart Malotki)
Paul Pascarella .... title designer
Barbara Pecarich .... production assistant
Barbara Pecarich .... special consultant to director
T.A. Price .... special consultant to director
Godfrey Reggio .... concept
Donald C. Rogers .... technical director: Goldwyn Sound Facility
Bradford Smith .... creative consultant
Thomas F. Tarbet .... consultant: Hopi prophecy
Dan Williams .... pilot: aerial cinematography
Langdon Winner .... special consultant to director
 
Thanks
Bruce Conner .... special thanks
 

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance" - USA (poster title)
See more »
Runtime:
86 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Godfrey Reggio did a series of short films for the Institute of Regional Education, consisting of a stream of images to the theme of the invasion of privacy. It was here that Reggio met cinematographer 'Ron Fricke'. An attempt to bring these films to national attention failed, thus the next logical step was to create a feature film - "Koyaanisqatsi".See more »
Goofs:
Crew or equipment visible: 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 »
Quotes:
[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 »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Wanderlust (2006) (TV)See more »

FAQ

What does Koyaanisqatsi mean?
What buildings are being demolished?
What is the rocket that explodes?
See more »
159 out of 168 people found the following review useful.
Wonderful Experimental Documentary, 10 May 2004

Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi (1983) is a film with no actors, no storyline, and no dialogue. The only things we see during the experimental documentary's 87 minutes are natural landscapes, images of cities, and real people going about their regular lives. Yet from the very beginning, when we see the title of the film appear in blood-red characters and hear the voice of a bass soloist chanting the title like an incantation, it is difficult not to be swept away in captivation.

Filmed between 1977 and 1982, Reggio's film was noticed by directing great Francis Ford Coppola who eventually agreed to finance the project and give it chances for distribution. Minimalist composer Philip Glass was optioned to compose the score, and the result was, quite simply, astounding.

Koyaanisqatsi is a collection of familiar images presented through tinted lenses (figuratively speaking). The experimental nature of the project can be seen in the reduced and augmented speeds of images, the use of carefully manipulated edits, and the use of Glass's score to create ambience. There are times when the film exhibits an almost surreal quality more indicative of a twisted, futuristic, dystopian sci-fi epic than of our mundane world.

This is, however, what makes Koyaanisqatsi so successful. In presenting our world in a disquieting, unflattering light, the film forces us to ruminate on our place in the universe and the consequences of many of our actions. The film starts with serene, austere images of mountains, oceans, and forests, and the repetitiveness of Glass's score does not bore us nor call attention to itself, but simply washes over us, entrancing us and instilling a sense of tranquility.

It is not long before the untainted images are replaced by nuclear power plants, highways, skyscrapers, rubble, fire and ash, and hoards of ant-like beings (humans, of course) scurrying through modern urbanity. Most times, humans are filmed at low-frame settings (making for faster speeds), and as a result, they seem frenzied, compulsively making their way through the cities in a manner that seems more conditioned than voluntary.

Glass's score responds by heightening its tension and adding a semi-brutal nature to its repetitiveness. It is somewhat aversive, but at the same time exhibits a humorous and mocking quality. By cramming together so many images of humans behaving more like lab rats than higher, thinking beings and increasing the satirical nature of the score, the film invites us to consider just how depersonalized, mechanized, and out-of-control many aspects of our life are.

The conclusion of the film contrasts against the blackly comic nature of the previous section by instilling a sense of mourning and warning. As such, there is undoubtedly a political and environmental component inherent in this film, but this is the aspect that is, in my mind, most often misunderstood. Many critics (mostly detractors) have interpreted Koyaanisqatsi as a call to action, an invective that demands that we atone for the rape-like pillaging the human race has thrusted upon the natural environment. Following from this, these critics claim that the film's message is that we would enjoy the planet more if we were not here at all, thus presenting a contradiction, since we would not be here to enjoy it.

In my own personal view, the flaw here resides in viewing the film as a tirade and a call to action. I find Koyaanisqatsi very clearly to be not a cry for reform, but a demand for awareness and meditation. There is an inevitability in the actions of human beings and their disregard for the care of their surroundings, and the wonderful thing about this film is that it forces you to experience the consequences and at least take notice of what each of us is contributing. It does not let you get away with indifference and nonchalance.

For me, however, the political component is less important than the stylistic component, which is one near and dear to my heart: the use of music to enhance the forcefulness of images. I acknowledge the fact that some will not be able to stand the repetitiveness of Philip Glass's score (and it is very repetitive at some points). But if one can consider the motive behind the repetition, the music ceases to be oppressive and becomes sublime and entrancing. The score adds impact to an already stunning array of unforgettable images, the details of which I will not go into, so that one may see the film with fresh eyes.

I saw Koyaanisqatsi for the first time at a performance in which the visuals were projected onto a giant screen with the soundtrack being supplied by Glass and his ensemble, who had come for a live performance. I had barely made it in time, since I struggled to find a parking space and was drenched from running in the rain. The moment the film started, however, all of the accumulated tensions in my body completely dissipated. It was not at all a cerebral experience, but an instinctive one in which I enjoyed the images and sounds for their own sakes.

When I left the performance, I was in a hypnotic daze, transfixed by what I had just seen. My initial impressions haven't changed to this day. I loved this film, and while the political and environmental concerns it addresses are important, what really makes this film for me is the instinctive, visceral power of its images and sounds. Koyaanisqatsi maroons its audience in an alternate version of reality that sheds disturbing light on our lives, and yet at the same time, it produces an unforgettable cinematic experience that is pervasively engrossing.

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Anyone else who discovered this film after 'Watchmen' Choekaas
I enjoyed it but didn't take it the right way. Calmest
Definitely sucked torrentbl00d
Does anybody know the story behind the rocket ship. MaxMix7
Best song to represent/watch Koyaanisqatsi? Isis-61
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