8.3/10
31,198
195 user 87 critic

Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Music | 24 August 1983 (France)
A collection of expertly photographed phenomena with no conventional plot. The footage focuses on nature, humanity and the relationship between them.

Director:

Godfrey Reggio
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5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Uncredited cast:
Lou Dobbs ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Ted Koppel ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
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Storyline

This experimental film looks at the world and more specifically the effect man has had on the landscape and the environment. Without narration, the film shows the world in a pristine condition and untouched: blue skies, beautiful landscapes and endless vistas. The man-made world is much less appealing. Essentially a montage using a variety of film techniques to provide a visually stunning montage of images. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Until now, you've never really seen the world you live in. See more »

Genres:

Documentary | Music

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Qatsi Trilogy site

Country:

USA

Language:

None

Release Date:

24 August 1983 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,723,872
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The choral piece near the end of the film, "Prophecies", is sung in the Hopi dialect. The translation is: "If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster. Near the Day of Purification, there will be cobwebs spun back and forth in the sky. A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky, which could burn the land and boil the oceans." See more »

Goofs

About an hour into the movie, the camera operator is reflected in the elevator's glass window as the elevator passes "between" floors while shooting the escalators. See more »

Quotes

title card: ko-yaa-nis-qatsi
[from the Hopi language]
title card: n. 1. crazy life. 2. life in turmoil. 3. life out of balance. 4. life disintegrating. 5. a state of life that calls for another way of living.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Simpsons: Mr. Plow (1992) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Kind of like 2001: A Space Odyssey, but without the constant barrage of dialogue...
7 January 2003 | by Anonymous_MaxineSee all my reviews

Koyaanisqatis is an extremely unusual film, and by far one of the most unusual I have ever seen. It takes on the daunting task of portraying the history of the world until modern times (or the early 80s, at least) entirely without dialogue. It is a documentary of sorts, in that it is amazingly informative, but it is filmed like a Hollywood film. Expertly framed shots and flawlessly smooth camera movement and shot composition. There is an unbelievable amount of talent behind this film, both in the fascinating images that are presented and the mesmerizing score by Philip Glass.

It is a very slow moving film, but it manages to keep your attention because, in many cases, it is just so interesting to see the things that are portrayed and the way that they are shown. This is the only film, for example, where you can see a shot of a 737 approaches directly toward the camera over a hot runway in a shot that is possibly over a minute long with no movement other than the sluggish lumbering of the massive plain.

Godfrey Reggio takes Glass's score and places images over it that add to the sound and create an experience that is far greater than, as they say, the sum of its parts. The shots contain camera movement or lack movement, are sped up or slowed down, and have live sound or no live sound depending on the desired effect, and the end result is absolutely hypnotic.

This is a wonderful cinematic experience for people of all ages, and possibly my favorite thing about this film and it's successors is that, because they have no dialogue, they can be shown in any country in the world and not have to worry about subtitles or even altered meanings. This is a film for humanity.


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