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Koyaanisqatsi is a product of years of hard work on part of filmmakers
and hundreds of years old Hopi prophecies. Watching Koyaanisqatsi with
some knowledge of Hopi culture goes a long way towards truly enjoying
I have seen Koyaanisqatsi numerous times, every time on the big screen and I believe that seeing it in cropped 16:9 aspect ratio can't do it justice. Having said that, it is still better to see it even in 16:9 then not to see it at all. (although I would advise against watching it in 16:9 on a small screen TV).
Koyaanisqatsi is a film with no dialog, actors or even a "story". However, to those familiar with concepts which are in the film, this work of art has a lot to offer.
Hopi Indians believe that God (or "Massaw" as they call the creator) created four distinct races to develop four essential elements: earth, wind, water and fire. The first part of the film illustrates that, although beautiful imagery can easily distract us, in a good way, from noticing that pattern is followed.
It is the white man that developed and is still developing what can be done with fire element: mining and excavation, arms, nuclear weapons, engines and power plants. In the process, all kinds of fuels are needed and consequences were foretold by Hopi prophecies - "If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster".
Without narration, dialog or acting, Koyaanisqatsi communicates very well dangers and pitfalls of careless modern development which is quickly surpassing our abilities to control it. In this respect the film could be seen as pessimistic, but I look at it more as an observation. Koyaanisqatsi is not a criticism of all modern technology, rather a look at, from a fresh perspective, of what we are doing to the world we inherited and seem to take for granted. It doesn't let us turn a blind eye to our race with ourselves in which essential earthly and human values are left behind. Even with the film being 25 yrs old, the freshness is preserved and is it's key element.
Koyaanisqatsi is probably the most enjoyable and moving portrait of our planet and humankind and should definitely be a centerpiece of some time-and-space-floating time-capsule.
For me, Koyaanisqatsi is one of only a few films which I consider works of art in the deepest sense.
Unless you are into plots and action, you will not be disappointed by this film; in fact, this will be the fastest 100 minutes of your life and it could be the most enjoyable film you ever saw.
I have read quite a few of the messages posted about this film and on
thing that I have noticed is that a fair number of them complain about
that there seemed to be no dialogue in this film.
Of course there was/is a dialogue that tan from beginning to end of the film...it was/is between the images presented and the viewer. How a person deals with the aftermath of the experience of viewing the film is something that is dependant upon whatever that person has experienced throughout their own life.
That is why all comments about this film are valid...even the 'dumb-assed' ones.
There are two ways I can think of to review a movie: The first is to
simply describe the movie, the second is to futilely try to analyze the
Neither of these options seemed to work on this film, but I was reminded of something: During the American tour for My Bloody Valentine's immensely influential album Loveless, the band experimented with their audiences' ability to sustain music played at high volumes. Critic Mark Kemp said of the tour, "After about thirty seconds the adrenaline set in, people are screaming and shaking their fists. After a minute you wonder what's going on. After another minute it's total confusion. The noise starts hurting. The noise continues. After three minutes you begin to take deep breaths. After four minutes, a calm takes over." This is as good of a review of Koyaanisqatsi as I could think of.
From the Hopi language, Koyaanisqatsi is a word that roughly translates
as "crazy life," or "a life out of balance," or perhaps more
appropriately, "a way of life that calls for another way of living."
Incidentally, that's exactly what this film shows: no plot or story,
just a document of the modern age of man, far out of balance from
nature, which calls for human beings to adapt to their own constructs.
This film doesn't offer any conventional story with any characters; it's purely an experience built from images and sound, to illicit thought and feeling in the viewers. Both the images and music are beautiful in their own ways: with Phillip Glass' epic, well-structured music score, the film takes on a palpable rhythm and mood that perfectly accentuates the gorgeous scenery. The film plays around a lot with time-lapse footage and slow-motion, which serve to show common cityscapes in an invoking new way. Altogether, the film is as hypnotic and mesmerizing as it is thought-provoking.
This film was cobbled together from all kinds of footage filmed across the United States from 1975 to 1983, with a tight budget. Regardless, the filmmakers show superb prowess with their photography and editing skills. At least on a technical level, they've maximized their potential and tools to craft an audio/visual masterpiece, weaving the images and music to the themes implied with the term Koyaanisqatsi.
As far as the content goes, like any piece of art, it's left to the viewer's interpretation. The most opaque of themes will revolve around civilization's progress, the depletion of nature, and the effects of technology and industrialization on the human race. There are times in the film where humanity seems triumphant, and other times where it feels like it's spinning out of control in a downward spiral of chaos and destruction (especially in one of the film's final shots, depicting an Atlas-Centaur rocket exploding; it's a sequence that's always hit me the hardest, given the combination of imagery, music, and the overall theme that human civilization rises so high, but will eventually crash and burn).
Watching this film is not only a treat for the eyes and ears, but also a sobering, moving experience unlike any other. I believe it truly represents the best and worst of the human race in the modern age, and everybody should see it at least once in a lifetime.
5/5 (Entertainment: Perfect | Content: Perfect | Film: Perfect)
This strange title hide a movie which critics the world of today, who
is evolve constantly but since the human is living on this planet, the
pollution is common.
"Koyaanisqatsi" is an awesome movie for cinema lover peoples because it contains fabulous images and a wonderful music. This movie make us think about the actions of the human on the environment. After watched this movie, i realize the earth changed a lot since the human use it. But, i think some shots in this movie are a bit slow.
Directed by an unknown people with the name of Godfrey Reggio, formerly monk, this movie will stays in my mind and i don't will hesitate to watch it again.
A must see movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of the most amazing movies I've ever seen. I remember how
awestruck I was the first time I saw it. Godfrey Reggio and Ron Fricke
created a new way to tell a complex story. Rather than a complicated
plot and a lot of dialogue, they returned to the roots of cinema: the
careful compositions of the silent era. The movie is basically a
thesis, structured to set up their argument and point by point prove
its validity. The opening fires of hell give way to the fires of a
rocket launch. Humans, through their own technology, have created the
seeds of their own destruction. Then nature is shown as it exists
without human intervention. There are scenes of thick clouds rolling
over mountains, juxtaposed with ocean waves. They show how nature is
serene and consistent. And then there are scenes of man's attempts to
change nature. High tension wire supports look like stiff human
sentinels scarring the landscape.
With breathtaking cinematography and clever time lapse sequences, we gradually see what a toll this human intervention has taken on humans themselves. The ending is a revelation (both literally and figuratively) and we are left with the Hopi Indian prophecies that frame the filmmakers' thesis.
Besides the groundbreaking visual work, the other aspect of this film that works very well is the soundtrack by Philip Glass. His minimalist style was the perfect match for the story and enhances the emotional impact of the images. During the climactic sequence The Grid, the music and images create such sensory overload that I've seen many people turn away from the screen.
I've seen in twice in theaters, once with Glass and a small band playing the music live. Those were incredible experiences. But I'm glad the movie has been given a decent DVD version so that I can enjoy it again and again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The views of the natural world contained in this movie are hardly less
violent than the human occupied scenes. There are geological views of
scenery that are violent and stark and ocean view of violent waves and
simply acknowledging nature as a violent and unbalanced place is
worthwhile in and of itself.
The idea that somehow we as humans inherently destroy the natural balance of nature is something that only the Greens amongst us might buy into. And the idea that the human part of this world is any less natural is bogus.
I found that sitting and watching this movie was an exercise in frustration that no one around me was willing to even consider any other point of view.
There is no doubt that this is an excellent example of pure cinema and music melded together and it was worthwhile even with the frustrations I experienced.
I challenge anyone to watch this film and not get carried away by its cascading imagery and haunting soundtrack. Koyaanisqatsi breaks away from the confines of film convention in a way that many experimental directors in the years preceding failed to. Many compare this film to Dziga Vertov's The Man With A Movie Camera, a comparison which is not wholly unfair. But while Vertov's film flaunts the versatility of film and cinematic storytelling, Reggio's piece is more lamenting and emotional. Not that this mars the experience - many choose to watch it on a purely audiovisual level, which I would concede is a far more rewarding experience. Director Reggio and his photographer Fricke work flawlessly with musician Philip Glass to unite image and sound into a cinematic experience that is impossible to forget. Buildings collapse, traffic runs like rivers, the sun pulls light like a veil over cityscapes - Koyaanisqatsi is the ultimate in unconventional cinema and deserves to be seen by everyone.
Everyone who I have shown this film reacts differently to it, which is
the only thing you can say for certain about this film.
Everyone will get something different from it because it is all about personal interpretation. The film itself is a series of images filmed all over the world set to the music of Phillip Glass.
Personally, I've found that on repeated viewings as I get older my opinions about the sequences have changed, because the film doesn't set out any particular agenda and the viewer is left to make up their own mind you tend to bring your own baggage to the film, and it is this that makes up the narrative as you watch.
I find it an awe inspiring experience and thoroughly recommend it to anyone, with the simple caveat that you go in with an open mind and try to think about what it means to you as you watch. I know this is hard for some people who aren't used to thinking for themselves but that is what makes it such a great experience.
This year, I caught sight of this movie's poster in the video store
where I go get my movies. Right away, the title fascinated me. I never
had seen a title of a movie called "Koyaanisqatsi" which means "Life
Out Of Balance". I learn that word from watching "Children Of The Corn
2: The Final Sacrifice".
The deep bell-like voices which sang the word Koyaanisqatsi sounded so suspenseful as I watched the movie change from American Nature into American Urbanization. Each and every shot was well planned and so was the lighting, directing and types of apertures which were set. It sure did take ages to finish this MASTER PIECE. And then, it came out.
The next time you go to the video store, get KOYAANISQATSI!
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