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It's quite sad that this video is out of print. I purchased a copy when it came out because it has music by Phillip Glass and he is one of my favorite composers. I wanted to purchase a copy for a friend, but found it impossible to do. This movie presents the most flawless marriage of music and video. The photography is impeccable, detailing scenes in nature you won't believe, and won't find anywhere else -- of note are the jellyfish (?) that look to be the size of redwoods. I have watched this video numerous times; I put it on sometimes while reading to relax. If you like "Baraka," another great film, it will be in your interest to try and find it. If I ever do, I will come back on here and post where I was able to get it. By the way, you'll notice in the user rating that no one has ever rated it lower than 6, quite impressive! Sadly, it will probably never make IMDB's top 250 because of the few total number of votes. If it was on the list, it would be #1!!!
This short is nothing short of mesmerizing! Reggio outdoes his "Koyaanisqatsi" and "Powaqqatsi" in this tribute to the wonders of the animal kingdom. The camera lingers, treks, enfolds and personifies these creatures in startlingly intimate detail, all the while accompanied by (yet another) haunting score by Philip Glass -- pieces of which were also put to excellent use in Weir's "The Truman Show." This one is a must-see in projected form.
There is a wonderful moment at the beginning of this film where the screen
is filled with the image of a large cat's eyes staring directly at us (the
one from the front of the video box), accompanied by dark, moody chords
played by the brass section. It looks away for a second, and then the
swells ominously as it looks at us again. Although I am not particularly
"into" the music of Phillip Glass, I must say that Reggio and Glass have
produced a really beautiful little film here. My particular favorite is
eerie, other-worldly underwater sequence, featuring black stingrays
far above us, sea lions swimming as we would imagine mermaids would,
inky-black jellyfish, and a swim through a forest of enormous seaweed
dancing and undulating gracefully. Glass's music for this sequence is
particularly haunting and beautiful -- and if you've ever seen the film
"The Truman Show," you've heard this music before. It accompanies a scene
where Truman is talking to his best friend, trying to make sense of his
life, and the music nicely underscores his sense of unease, sadness and
doubt (I believe it was written for "Anima Mundi" first).
Despite a comment here about "Anima Mundi" being out of print, I did just manage to buy the DVD at a local store here in Chicago, and that edition, at least, seems to be available on-line at Amazon and elsewhere. It lasts just 30 minutes, but it's 30 really outstanding minutes, well worth seeing. The DVD gives a noticeable improvement in clarity and color stability (particularly bright reds) over the now out-of-print laserdisc edition. Get it while you can.
It is a wonderful immersion in a very lively nature. The music and the images are complementary to each other. The quality of the images is impressive. You will see animals and environments from any corner of the world and will be impressed by the diversity of them.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Godfrey Reggio directed "Koyaanisqatsi" and its two sequels, but this is a more sombre affair. Editing existing wildlife footage with freshly exposed material, he has created a beautiful, haunting piece that celebrates diversity. And though he does sound a familiar warning bell about our appalling treatment of the environment, the focus remains on the incredible beauty and variety of animals our planet has produced. Philip Glass's minimalist score turns the spectacular into the sublime, and no sequence is a greater example of this than the underwater one where various forms of alien life slither through the murky depths. The photography of the big cats is amazing, too, their regal beauty artfully captured by the many documentarians associated with the production. The film's final image humbles us all. A product of love and appreciation that, at thirty minutes, is perfectly measured.
Don't give up! This DVD is now available through various new/used
dealers. The disc is quite extraordinary and disappointing at the same
time. Here's why...
Like Godfrey Reggio's previous films, the concept behind Anima Mundi is spectacular and its content is extraordinarily beautiful. However, in the DVD version I have, the video quality is poor, sometimes even painfully so, considering our age of crisp, radiant, digital video.
One more comment: I scored this film low based on its video quality. At this writing, an $8 DVD and an $18 DVD are available. Perhaps it has been re-released with improved quality? I hope so; I think it's worth seeing.
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