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Reviews & Ratings for
Koyaanisqatsi More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: plobewillcometokillyou from United States
16 August 2005

I saw this movie roughly three weeks ago. At first glimpse, it seemed to be a pretentious, "save the rain forest/humanity is evil" movie that there have been so many of. Buy, as theme after theme rolled by, and score after score chimed through, I found myself moved and...well, awed by the powerful emotions stirred up. The thing I like about this movie was how it could be interpreted in many different ways. A warning, an ode to technology, or simply a beautiful mixture of image and sound. The only big problem I could find was that it was a tad long. It could have conveyed its meaning in a smaller area. I am not saying that any part of it was less important than any other part. I think all parts had meaning, but it extended beyond the average attention span. Still, a moving piece of film.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

There Should Be a Law

Author: eve_lorenzen from United States
21 May 2005

This is not just a movie I would recommend, I would ask and beg people to see it. I've only seen two films in my life that I sometimes wish there were a totalitarian law that all citizens must watch. This is one, the other is The Deer Hunter.

They are not necessarily films you will take entertainment out of, they are simply films you need to see at least once in your lifetime. They are very important.

It doesn't have the same effect on the small screen that it did for me when I saw it in the theatre, but now that it's out on DVD at least it's in a good widescreen format accessible to most people of Western Civilization (though it might be 51%, not sure on the exact figures of people who own DVD players in computers or otherwise). Its production in laserdisc was far too brief, and the cropped VHS version leaves a lot to be desired.

Please see this film. Please.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The definition of the word "movie"

Author: hpsammler from Germany
22 September 2004

This great work of art could only be a movie. It is about the only true film I've ever seen. If you watch this outside a good movie theatre with a large screen it looses its magic. It's impossible to imagine this as a book, a theatre piece or in any other form than movie. I find the music listened on its own boring and repetitive, I don't really like Phil Glass. It's impossible to make a trailer for this - there's no single highlight scenes with a meaning on their own. It is a movie without a spoken word, it's the pure essence of "movie".

For me, this is the one movie I've seen the most times, and the one I'll always want to see again if the opportunity arises.

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Like a documentary made by aliens about the 80's

Author: Petter P from Stockholm
22 January 2017

A very beautiful flow of clips, even though some of them should frighten more than intrigue.The tempo is also part of what makes is so captivating. The clips slowly builds up and creates an alarming story. At the same time every sequence stands on its own. The lack of words gives it an almost alien view of earth and man's relationship to the planet. Together with the score by Philip Glass it sucked me in and I have rarely been so focused on every frame throughout an entire movie. It must have been quite amazing to see this in a movie theater back in the 80's with the big screen, speakers and also i guess in a time when similar creations were more scarce than now. It's by far the most visual movie I have seen and the fact that it only relies on images and music to tell a story made it bypass my rational filters and made me fully present in the moment for 86 minutes straight.

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Wordless plea to end the insanity

Author: evening1 from United States
18 December 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It was a shock and a pleasure to see this iconic film show up in the Turner Classic Movies lineup so I was eager to revisit it. I'm really glad I did.

I had first seen this unique film some three decades ago, and its stunning images and jarring theme had remained with me. It is important to reconnect with this stirring reminder on both a macro and micro level -- Man must protect his precious, irreplaceable planet, and he must wake up from his stupor to savor the moment!

Director Godfrey Reggio has achieved something amazing here. He has located places to photograph here on Earth that enable him to re- create the geological and biological beginnings of our world. We glide effortlessly, via scene-shifting cinematography, from a barren and rocky terrain to one that shows signs of life-giving water to another that betrays the first glimmerings of life.

It isn't long before we are in the industrial age with its smokestacks, power grids, skyscrapers, and mushroom clouds, and the planet begins to show its scars. Humans live amidst neon and garbage-strewn rubble with all of the dignity and grandeur of endlessly scurrying ants.

How often is it you see a film and never forget its score? Here is one film that may do that for you, beginning with the lower-than-low chanting of the word "Koyaanisqatsi" (meaning "crazy life" in the language of the Hopi, a Native American tribe living in northeast Arizona) to the maniacal and incessant tinklings of the Philip Glass accompaniment, complete with modernized Gregorian chants. The music engenders a sense of implacable anxiety and madness. You must experience it!

Where does it all lead? The film concludes with an extended scene of the shuttle Challenger exploding into fiery nothingness as its ashes cascade toward earth in an empty shell -- a scenario, it is suggested here, that was foreseen by Hopi prophecy.

This film offers an indelible wake-up call to Man. Let's hope he hears!

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A Masterpiece!

Author: maxlover-90181
1 December 2016

Thanks to TCM, I watched Koyaanisqatsi again last night. I first saw this movie in an art house theater when I was in high school, and over the years I've seen it many times on home video.

I've seen it in various states of mind and under the influence of many different mind-altering substances, but I've long since given up such pursuits and I was stone cold sober as I watched last night.

I had forgotten just how visually powerful this movie is.

I was touched emotionally every bit as much as back in 1983.

I can't think of another film that could possibly have such a lasting emotional impact.

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"A look at ordinary life from an extraordinary point of view."

Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
1 December 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I actually learned about this film from reading a review of some quite different movie right here on IMDb and have been on the lookout for it ever since. A search through my library system produced no results, so seeing it come up on the TCM cable listing the other night I managed to DVR it for watching this morning. I had to laugh actually, because the guest host for the viewing was actor Alec Baldwin. What better choice for this odd sounding film, the name of which is derived from the Hopi Indian language which loosely translates as 'life out of balance'. Off the top of my head I can't think of many other hosts who's own life may be out of balance enough to perform the duty. Just recall that phone call rant to his daughter that went viral some years ago and you'll make the connection.

This film won't be for everyone's taste, that I'll grant. It's a wordless picture relying on an abundant sequence of images meant to convey both the dichotomy and interconnection between Man and Nature. Some will see it as an indictment on Mankind, thrust into a pristine world and polluting it by his mere presence. I don't see it in that harsh regard, though some of the images are indeed stark and troubling.

Part of the film's strength involves the power and majesty of Nature's elemental forces juxtaposed with scenes of harmonic tranquility. It begins in a sense, from the beginning, with images from areas of the country resembling Utah's Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, looking almost prehistoric in nature. A reverential musical score from Philip Glass lends support to the ethereal beauty of the images on screen, so it's all the more jarring when Man's machines and structures make their first intrusion on this glorious landscape. The rubble of Man's failures are highlighted in images of abandoned ghettos and ruined neighborhoods, but the film narrative successfully moves on to reveal the immense creativity and excitement of his creations. City life teems with extraordinary energy, especially at night with vibrant time lapse photography that captures the vitality of humanity.

With a keen eye and superb editing, the film makers make a humorous visual statement with a cleverly placed theater marquee above a bustling city street that offers it's own critique of harried modern life - 'Grand Illusion'. Another clever contrast is made between a bank of escalators moving at a rapid pace, disgorging thousands into a grand terminal, while the next sequence involves an Oscar Mayer assembly line furiously producing hot dogs for the masses. The point is well made, life is indeed too fast and one must stop to smell the roses if any sense is to be made of one's existence at all. This I think is where the grand vision of the project is intended to lead us, to make us stop and think, and maybe think about stopping to enjoy the wondrous beauty of the world around us.

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The Precursor to "The Tree of Life"

Author: socialnetworkman from United States
1 June 2016

"Koyaanisqatsi" is a film meant to be experienced. It has no narrative or dialogue, just an 85 minute string of images with an accompaniment of music by Philip Glass. The main significance in the film seems to be the contrast between nature and civilization. There's an obvious environmental message at play, but the film is getting at something much more grand and cinematic as a whole. The ultimate cornerstone of "Koyaanisqatsi" is the cinematography and music. When the film focuses on nature at the beginning, the camera-work and music is majestic and slow, but when we cut to focus on civilization, it's chaotic and fast- paced. "Koyaanisqatsi" is a purely cinematic experience that never has a dull moment and ends on a high note.

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Lets remind ourselves all over again

Author: celestemekent from United States
10 July 2015

I first saw this movie when it opened in the theaters, I was blown away by it. The juxtaposition of nature with our human environment and suggesting gently that ours is out of balance, leaves little doubt. But this is for people with more than a little ability at self examination. Without it, the movie makes little sense at all.

Now many years later the images remain, stuck in my memory and while this makes a re-viewing of it less than ideal, the message remains. Sadly our human environment has not gotten better, it is worse. Man's inhumanity towards our fellow man has gone to the point where the examples offered by this film pale in comparison. So as a warning it failed.

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A delight for the senses

Author: kevjfarrell from Minnesota, United States
21 March 2015

This is a visual and musical masterpiece. Superb images put to superb music. It's hypnotic on every level. For me, this is best watched late in the evening and let your senses go on a ride. There's no actors or regular story line. It's a look at life in a way that you don't often stop to think about it. On that level, it is thought provoking. The editing on this movie is excellent. This is the first in a trilogy and in my opinion far better than the other two - but they are worth a watch too. It might be better for you to watch them in reverse order and then you'll appreciate each one getting better than the last! The finale is quite spectacular and gives you a few moments to absorb all that you have just watched. I highly recommend this movie. I loved it - and still do - I bought the DVD.

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