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Koyaanisqatsi
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Reviews & Ratings for
Koyaanisqatsi More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The World in which we live (in the 1970's)

10/10
Author: stuart_a_mack from United Kingdom
18 September 2007

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.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding!

10/10
Author: Richard Wheeler from South Africa
9 June 2007

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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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

a radically effective critique of industrialism / modernity

10/10
Author: baruchandbenedict from United States
5 March 2007

Koyaanisqatsi powerfully juxtaposes the symmetry and balance of the natural world with the chaos of modernity's constant and accelerating technological progress. The film has no dialogue, but a clear message is contained in a title that derides industrial life as unbalanced or morally corrupt and a soundtrack that manages to convey conflicting opinions and emotions in a way that words simply could not have. Glass's minimalist sound scape is perfectly matched to the subject matter - it evokes simultaneous feelings of respectful awe and of absolute terror. This is a film about directionless progress, about a rapid and unregulated increase in the rate and scale upon which human life is lived, and about man's violent conquest of moral and physical nature. Ellul must have been proud.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The Awful Beauty of the Beast

10/10
Author: im_veritas_photo from United States
13 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I believe it was Godfrey Reggio, producer and director, who said that this film "celebrates" the awful beauty of the horrible Beast TECHNOLOGY, by hitting the viewer in the sensory solar plexus.

These are stunning cinematic images, accompanied perfectly by the minimalist music composed by Philip Glass. Reggio said that if you fail to participate... by merely watching and listening, without forming any opinions, positive or negative, you cannot possibly begin to appreciate this film. He really doesn't care if you "love," or merely "like," or even "hate" it, but for God's Sake form SOME opinion! I watched this film for the first time in 2006 (24 years after it was released?). I think it is MORE relevant now than it must have been then... Truly prescient, it eerily predicts the horror and sadness evoked by the Challenger and Columbia Space Shuttle Disasters (both occurred after the film's release), and the terrorist attack of 11.Sep.2001.

Watching and "particpating" in this film, seeing analogs of the transition of our lives from simple at-one-with-Nature into a technological milieu in which we are so immersed we can't even see it, much less recognize its beauty and horror... All this is fascinating, and upsetting in the extreme.

And I will watch and listen to it again and again...

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

One film that should be on the "Greatest Films Ever Made" list.

10/10
Author: codebreaker2001
16 August 2006

When it comes to films that make you think and those that are stylistically unique, I have to give this film a 10. I came across "Koyaanisqatsi" when I saw it for the first time at my Intro to Film class at FSU. It was the first film that the teacher shown in class as a test to see how each student interpreted the film's possible meaning. And, lucky enough that the class was in an auditorium classroom, we got a chance to see this breath-taking film on a very big screen.

The theme of the film and the style is similar to Dziga Vertov's "A Man with a Movie Camera" (1929), yet the film retains a uniqueness of its meaning for the period of time in which it had been made. "Koyaanisqatsi" is perfect for a beginning film-goer, as a means of opening the viewer's eye to both motion pictures and to the world around us. Matched with the music composed by Philip Glass, the music and the visuals work together to bring about an experience that is both sensually mind-boggling and amazing. To be honest, the film should be on the list of the "Greatest Films Ever Made" list and on the top ten portion of such a list if ever. It is a must see for film directors and editors who look to see how image, sound and editing can be used to convey a story and invoke the thought process.

This film gets a 10 out of 10 from me.

it is a film that is able to open the human eye to the world around you.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A God's Eye View...

9/10
Author: Draconis Blackthorne (WarlockBlackthorne@yahoo.com) from The Infernal Empire
24 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Koyaanisqaatsi: life out of balance; crazy life; life in turmoil; life disintegrating; a state of life that calls for another way of living." - Hopi term.

A God's eye view of planet earth and its inhabitants. From the opening scene of tribal hieroglyphs and chanting reverberation, the film launches into an enchanting series of impressive environmental scenes set to haunting electronic and instrumental music, with scenes I have divided into five sections:

1. Homage to The Four-Crown Princes of Hell.

Stunning vistas of the elements in flux, from canyons to plains to forests to volcanoes to fields of kaleidoscopic color, to clouds and storms and the massive movements of the ocean.

2. Infernal Machines.

Cut to behemoth land-tilling machines, man-made industrial environments, expansive scenery of automobiles, planes, and space-age technological inventions.

3. The Herd.

The teaming masses shuffling to and fro, set to insect-like speeds. The proles kept in perspective. Crowds and clusters of humanity, with a few individual shots of amusing foibles and locations.

4. The Concrete Jungle.

Skyscrapers, slums, implosions, construction and destruction, as well as beautiful shots of the metropolitan evening.

5. End.

A return to the hieroglyphs, which seems to signify a primal contemplation, a return to The Source.

Koyaanisqatsi is certainly a Satanic meditation, which would prove beneficial after any interaction with the herd, a veritable "eye in the sky" - asserts the "larger picture", as it were. A LaVeyan recommendation, it is mostly comprised of time-lapse film, and the tenebrous music compliments it well.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

My brief review of the film

Author: sol- from Perth, Australia
25 July 2005

Magnificently photographed, the gliding and swooping shots really draw one into the picture, and the in and out of focus playing is fascinating at times. The music fits the images very well, and theme song is quite interesting. Because of these little virtues, the film possesses power both on a visual and audio scope, however it is hard to really get into the film, due to the absence of dialogue and characters. For this reason, the images and overlaying score contain little meaning, and since there is no linear plot to follow, there is nothing to grasp the viewer in the slower sequences with less powerful music. At the end, the film quotes a few phrases in the hope of justifying what it has shown. The quotes are thought provoking, but they fail to provide justifications for more than half the images in the film. So it is not quite a masterpiece, but as a unique experimental film it is interesting, and the cinematography tricks, using time lapse and other techniques, are impressive.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful exploration into non-narrative film-making...

10/10
Author: JonBowerbank from San Francisco, CA
1 June 2005

Out ranking it's sequels because of the beautiful cinematography by Ron Fricke, this one not only astounds the senses but it teaches a lesson to us all by only uttering one word that at face value means nothing, but once you've watch the film and that definition comes up it all starts to sink in.

Some of my favorite shots were the rolling clouds, what looked to be Utah's Lake Powell, the trucking in shot of the fighter pilot standing in front of his plane, the comparison between urban developments and microchip construction and what appears to be footage of the fateful Columbia mission.

It's a great ride and a great exposition of what's going on in our world. This one along with the two sequels has images that are just as shocking today as they were back in the early 80's.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Pretend Reggio doesn't exist

9/10
Author: kuroiluna
4 April 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Only thing stopping me from giving this movie a pure 10 is that it's "message", Life Out of Balance, jus really doesn't come across. In fact everyone I know seems to come away from this movie with a different understanding or story, which I think is awesome. Honestly ,the only thing that turned me off about this movie was the last minute of it. YES THE LAST MINUTE, in which the definition of Koyaanisqatsi is revealed and the lyrics are translated into a batch of soapboxing phrases. The DVD trailers for the sequels also took a lot away from my buzz, ignore those.

So my advice is to watch this movie, but completely ignore whatever message Reggio is trying to convey here (it's really easy). So at the end when the word Koyaanisqatsi appears, stop the movie.

Define your own story.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Kaleidoscope Reality

10/10
Author: jaesboxer from Canada
13 March 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Koyaanisqatsi is unlike anything else in cinema. The closest analogy one can come up with is a sort of live-action Fantasia. But in reality it is so much more. It is an audio-visual poem that is nearly flawless. It presents the reality of everyday life and of nature from entirely new perspectives, and with what is perhaps the most brilliant cinematographic work in history, manages to unfold a fantastic portrait of life out of balance. The cinematography is interwoven so intricately with the brilliant minimalism of Philip Glass that the soundtrack and the visuals seem to breathe together as an organic entity, each actualizing the other. The divisions of the DVD and the soundtrack are perfect delineations of the film's progression: in Organic, slow camera work draws through deserts and canyons constructed by years of wind and sand, showing the organic interplay of forces that characterises natural law. In Cloudscape, fast-motion cinematography shows the dances of clouds and waters, each merging and following the same patterns (here there are some of the most dazzling shots of the film). In Resource we are given a glimpse of human development based on these natural processes. In Vessels, the film moves into the human world, where it will stay for the remainder, showing the vessels that humans construct for themselves: cars, planes, skyscrapers, highways, city streets, and the movement of these vessels together. In Pruit Igoe we see the degradation of the vessel, abandoned buildings and broken windows, models of human wastefulness, the permanence of which is contrasted with the models of nature. This sequence ends with a spectacular series of demolition shots that show the destruction of what man has built to make room for what man will build. The film reaches its artistic climax in the massive twenty-minute segment, The Grid. In The Grid, fast-motion cinematography moves through city streets, production lines, malls, and forests of skyscrapers, presenting the cityscape as a gridwork through which human lives move along predestined lines, indifferent to the thousands of fellow travelers around them. This segment speeds up to near light-speed levels at the end, moving along roads and observing the lights of cars that speed by in a kaleidoscope vision that dazzles the mind. In the final chapter, Prophecies, the camera slows down to show the people who comprise the Grid, emphasizing their identity and simultaneous anonymity within the machine in which they are gears. It also shows those who the flow of energy through the grid has left behind, stranded. This scene is accompanied by beautiful choral work by Glass, prophecies from the HOpi Language. In the final scene of the film, a rocket ascends, into space, and like Icarus flying too close to the sun, explodes in a fireball, from which a descending piece of rubble is followed in its haunting fall back to earth, pivoting around some unseen gravity, in a ballet like dance that shows that the same balance that rules the deserts rules the world of man, and that life out of balance will inevitably fall to earth.

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