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|Index||174 reviews in total|
A visual and audio bombardment on the senses, 24 January 2001
Author: quin1974 (email@example.com) from Den Haag, The Netherlands
This must have been the fastest 87 minutes of my life. I started this on my
VCR and was sucked into this mesmerizing world of imagery and sound and
before I knew it was over. This movie bombarded me with these visuals I
could not take my eyes off.
Philip Glass' soundtrack was engrossing if chaotic at times (but this complemented the scenes perfectly) and made the skyscrapers and apartment buildings seem like giants standing in a wilderness created by Man.
The imagery of the highways at night filmed in timelapse were particularly striking because they seemed to resemble veins and arteries of a body that was very much alive. We are just a part of this enormous organism called Mother Earth, and we should respect that.
The timelapse visuals of the city in the rainstorm were very good as well, it gave you an impression that while we think we have conquered the world there is always this tremendous force looming over us, but we just don't realize this every day.
One more thing: I think the tie-in for the beginning and the end with the launch of the space vessel was fantastic. This shows our vulnerability when it comes to what we are doing every day. You have this incredibly complex machine, but when only one part of that machine breaks down the whole system goes down. That is something to think about (and was it me or was that piece of debris never going to hit the ground).
And in this manner I can go on and on recalling my impressions on the visuals but that would take up too much space.
I regret having seen this on the small screen. I do not know in what ratio this was shot (2.35, 1:85 or something else) but I expect this to be 20 times more impressive on the big screen. This is an eye-opener of the best kind.
Have a barrel of fun!, 26 November 2000
Author: wryroy (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Eureka! CA USA
This is an awesome movie, although I'm not quite sure I'd actually characterize it as a "Barrel of fun." However, there is a scene in the movie (Times Square, Manhattan, NYC) with a huge billboard of Colonel Sanders urging his customers to "Have a barrel of fun!" (i.e., a barrel of his Kentucky fried chicken). Down on the street, it doesn't look like any of the pedestrians appear to be having much fun at all though...this is only one of hundreds of amazing images & ironic juxtapositions that make up the movie. I doubt if there's much in the way of original criticism that I can add that you can't already find in the external reviews and other user comments, but I would like to make 2 recommendations that are not already listed under the imdb.com recommendations: "Baraka" and "Powaqqatsi." These 2 films are also "documentaries" about the world we live in, and like "Koyaanisqatsi" they also have no "plot", no dialogue & great soundtracks. If you like "Koyaanisqatsi" you'll like these films too!
unforgettable, one of a kind viewing experience, 14 August 2000
Author: Dr.X from parts unknown
I had no idea what I was in for when a couple of friends showed up with a tape of this about ten years ago. Within five to ten minutes we were all glued to the screen with fascination and awe. The editing, photography, and use of a terrific score are all nothing short of brilliant. Having only seen it once all those years ago, I still vividly remember many of the scenes and images. I suppose for some this film will lose its appeal in the light of similar experimental collages in film and even music video. But this one is perfect in my opinion. For some reason, this came up in conversation with one of those friends who brought the tape over, and ever since we've discussed it I can't wait to track it down and see it again. I would love to see this on the big screen.
A powerful film, 12 August 2000
Author: john suckling (dubnut)
I have seen this film 3 times in its pan/scan format, having no access to
laserdisc or unconventional film houses. Being a moderate fan of Philip
Glass, I was utterly glued to this film each time. It reflects the power
and majesty of our planet, revealing its beauty and reflecting the horrors
and numbness of our devolution upon its surface. It depicts the vastness of
nature and the
vast loneliness of a humanity which struggles to cope with cities and
This film should be watched by all with an eye for beauty, nature and truth. I have never before seen a more honest film, and I am greatly looking forward to the proposed war documentary of the same vein.
Fascinating visual documentary speaks volumes without words, 20 June 2000
Author: Tony DeMatio from San Jose, California
Quite possibly my favorite film ever, Koyaanisqatsi (a Hopi term meaning
"life out of balance") is an amazing film. Featuring no dialogue but
boasting a terrific score by Philip Glass, it documents the impact of
technology on ourselves and the world around us.
While the concept of a film with no dialogue might seem a little dull for more mainstream viewers, anyone willing to give this film a chance will most likely be surprised at how powerful and beautiful it is. The superior cinematography combined with Glass's music is an experience that begs to be seen with as large a screen and as few interruptions as possible.
I usually find that few films can hold the same amount of interest on repeated viewings, but having no dialogue is Koyaanisqatsi's blessing. The pictures move by so quickly that there is always more to see, more to discover. If you allow yourself to become immersed in the film, it is almost like being in a trance. Glass's soundtrack is hypnotic; sometimes brooding, sometimes frenetic, sometimes even exasperating, but always appropriate.
In short, no review can really do this film justice. Don't be put off by the title or the difficulty in finding this film. It's more than worth the effort.
A mind-blowing experience, 8 June 2000
Author: neale.apps from Sydney, Australia
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***WARNING CONTAINS SPOILERS***
I first saw Koyaanisqatsi this year in an unusual mode: Philip Glass, composer of the mighty score to this film, was touring with his ensemble, and actually performing the score, live on stage, in sync with the film which was being screened above the stage! - almost like the days of piano-accompanied silent films, one might say. It was in January this year at the Sydney Opera House. The lights went down, and the organ began a slow, funereal passage as the screen slowly panned across ancient South American Indian cave paintings. An impossibly deep bass vocalist on stage began chanting slowly, over and over, one word, the movie's title. Already, I was enthralled. As the movie progressed through slow motion pans over beautiful, untouched natural landscapes, the score swelled in power and majesty. Suddenly, an odd discordant note crept into the score, and we are confronted with the visual spectacle of hundreds of oil rigs pumping, giving visual body to the now-straining theme. The next three-quarters of the movie are in this vein, as we are treated a visual recording of the human takeover of every facet of the life on the planet. The images now, instead of being slowed down, are speeded up to a dizzying, frenetic pace - crowds in Grand Central Station, traffic on L.A. freeways, looking almost like a biological closeup of a human bloodstream, which is matched now by the rapid-fire arpeggiated score. Finally, the music returns to a slower, studied, uncertain theme, as we witness in incredible, close-up slow motion, the launch of a U.S. space probe. The camera follows the rocket from the launch pad up into the sky over several minutes, until it accidentally explodes - the explosion, even in slow motion, is so sudden, so frightening, I almost fell out of my seat. At that instant, the original, deep, sombre chanting theme returns, as the camera for the rest of the film, remorselessly follows the shards of the space vehicle spinning helplessly - still in slow motion - towards the sea, before ultimately returning to pan once again over the original cave paintings. Finally, the screen goes black, and the dictionary translation of the Hopi word Koyaanisqatsi appears - "life out of balance". The message is powerfully and unforgettably clear: despite our technology, despite our apparent mastery of the world around us, we in western culture aren't quite as smart as we think we are. This for me was a mind-blowing experience; I will see this movie again and again, but I will never forget the first night I saw it, performed live by the composer. Surely this film, with the possible exception of Fantasia, is the greatest combining of the arts of film and music ever attempted, and beggars subsequent cheap imitations like Naraka. You must see this film at least once in your life. It's awesome.
The Modern Day Silent Majestic Masterpiece, 16 April 2000
Author: iF.... (email@example.com) from U.S.A.
Film is a visual medium; words are not necessary to tell a story. Stanley
Kubrick taught us that with his masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. He proved
that visuals is all that really matters in film to tell a story that will
cause people to make their own conclusions while also trying to maintain the
sense of the director's intent. Godfrey Reggio also proved this with his
masterpiece Koyaanisqatsi. Both of these films, especially Koyaanisqatsi are
a perfect example of a modern day `Silent Films'.
Koyaanisqatsi is not a film in its traditional sense. There is no story, yet there is. I know it sounds ironic but let me explain. What is it that you see when you go see a movie? Images, montages of images put together to tell a story. Koyaanisqatsi is nothing but images put together to tell a story. Even though there is no dialogue what so ever, you somewhat understand what the film is trying to induce.
The film begins with a painting of what seems to be Hopi paintings on a stone. This could represent the birth of mankind. Then the next image is a space shuttle thruster, the evolution of man evolving to the extent that he has passed the limits of the skies. The first half of the film are images of Mother Nature. Meaning oceans, landscapes, and so forth. The second half is modern day earth with it's technological advancements.
You can see the images tell a story if you look closer. We begin with nature, no signs of humans or technology. It's a beautiful scenario. After the images of nature finish, the first thing we see is a tractor of some sort ejecting black smoke making it look intimidating and dangerous as it's own smoke slowly covers the entire frame. A beautiful yet fearful sight.
Modern day life has never seemed so strange. As I saw Koyaanisqatsi I realized this was modern day. But the way Godfrey Reggio portrays it onscreen makes it appear as if we are in a different world. Images switch from playing in fast speed to slow motion, and vice versa.
Accompanied to a beautiful score by Philip Glass adds even more beauty to the film. Glass is known for his offbeat style of music, by combining it with Reggio's bizarre style, it creates a masterpiece of film unlike no other.
Koyaanisqatsi is not a film for everyone. It takes a certain type of audience to appreciate a film like this. This is film is a piece of art form, if you want a true definition of what people talk about when they say film is art, this is the best example you will ever find.
There is so much to say about this film that I can't even think where to begin. All I can say that if there are any people out there that truly love film will appreciate Koyaanisqatsi. If you cannot appreciate what this film has to offer, then I don't think film is an area that can truly relate to you. Like I said before, this film is made specifically for certain types of people, its not for everyone. When a film of this caliber can make you laugh, smile, and evoke emotion, you know you've cared about it and it has meant something. Any filmmaker that can make this so through a montage of images is an absolute genius.
A fascinating and hypnotic work of pure cinema., 19 March 2000
Author: Deckard-16 from United States
I put this film in the same league as "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Brazil" as an unexplainable masterpiece. It is a totally non-verbal experience that demands an open mind to fully enjoy. It is an absolutely stunning assault on your senses. Godfrey Reggio and his crew fill the screen with glorious images of nature that dissolve into mechanistic cityscapes that eventually mutate into an unseemly but seamless combination of dehumanizing frenetics and organic symmetry that expose the insane quality of urban life and the expense the our planet pays in its wake. Phillip Glass's score is graceful and pulsating exactly where it needs to be. The music reaches the most dizzying climax of any musical work I've ever heard. It is also beautiful beyond words. This film richly rewards anybody who allow themself to be fully immersed by it.
New Use of the word "eerily hypnotic", 6 January 2000
Author: Mark A. Blumberg from New Jersey
This is one of those films that amazes with every cut. The fact that it never ceases to entertain is something that truly frightens me. The beautiful images keep on coming, and I think the combination of Philip Glass and the on-screen images puts people in another state of mind. I wouldn't be surprised if someone found out that the film causes seizures in children because...wow.
Truly unique, 10 December 1999
Author: db_simpson from London, England
'Koyaanisqaitsi' is a truly unique film.
There is not really what you would call a conventional plot, and the film contains absolutely no dialogue - yet paradoxically it makes for far more ominous and moving viewing than your average Hollywood slush. The speeded-up vision of industrial society creates the effect in the viewer of perceiving the world's major cities as being enormous, chaotic, interrelated organisms, while it's stunning view of nature makes you realize just how precarious and yet powerful the Earth can be. Truly unique, even if many would not even classify it as a movie in the conventional sense.
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