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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 See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,723,872
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

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

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. 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

Choir: Koyaanisqatsi - Koyaanisqatsi - Koyaanisqatsi - Koyaanisqatsi - Koyaanisqatsi...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in 5th World (2005) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Forced harmony
13 September 2012 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

This should have been ideal for me. I am always on the lookout for transcendent vision, and second to the real journey is only the cinematic ritual. Herzog does it for me, Tarkovsky and his rituals about time inside time. And I firmly believe it has done quite a bit of harm to think the universe is telling some sort of story, it has misled us to devise arcs and expect story-answers, so I welcome any attempt that aspires to push against the boundaries of thought and narrative. That is always the essential ritual, only the tool that allows the dancer to submerge himself beyond thought and description, to where he can be one with dance that means itself.

I will not deny the man the powerful dance of his images, or the dedicated craft, but the ending reveals him to be shallow in the reach and depth of his meditation (if you were on the fence before). And it matters that this narrows the world by so much, because a lot of people are coming to it for a worldview and willing to open up.

His "life out of balance"(Koyaanisqatsi) is "a state of life that calls for another way of living".

It is just small view to contrast natural 'purity' with the evils and violence of man-made technology.

Worse, it is every bit as idealized and un-natural as seeking out panoramas of skies for their extraordinariness. You can suspect that the filmmakers had to sift through a lot of unexciting shots of nature until they could settle on images that were nature as they wanted it to be, more 'natural' than others.

And passing that as spiritual vision narrows the world, because it forces harmony where actual nature has turbulence built into it, stochastic chaos, and that forces a story of something originally pure and stable -paradise- that we are separate from and uprooting, and this sort of religious thinking only further separates us from the natural world. It also ignores fundamental dynamics of the real thing.

For one, "life out of balance" is the natural way, it is why everything exists in the first place; planets are in position, because universal space exploded in that first minute of creation. I wonder if he was blind to it in his own images of swirling clouds and sand-particles.

Moreover, we are indeed, doing a lot of destructively rapid , short-sighted terraforming of our own next to nature's, and a lot of our contraptions break, but wouldn't it be much more agreeable to counterpoint that with some of the many wonderful advances we have made on the backs of failure? Being able to separate now poisonous from edible and medicinal plants, means people died in the discovery, brave and curious explorers.

And this guy is just not a very curious explorer to me. He has traveled far and captured amazing things on tape. But, it seems as if all has to fit into that one image, instead of one image splintering to reveal a multitude of reflections.

His craft reveals as much; it strives for controlled perfection, omniscience, monumental depiction, clean boundaries, in every bit the same way as Riefenstahl fought in her films to choreograph the world into her own image of idealized sensuality - confused for spiritual.

It's no wonder Coppola was so smitten by this he put his name and money on it, a similarly over-zealous man enthralled (at one point) by 'mystical' nature.

Both, by their overly zealous approach to freeze transcendence, reveal in a roundabout way the limitations of the human model criticized here: we are at odds with this being an imperfect , chaotic world, so when the film ends with footage of burning space rocket debris cascading from the skies, the notion is not acceptance of the inevitable end of things, but a cautionary lament: if only we lived another way, things wouldn't blow up in our face. And there is simply no such way to live, not without skiing on imbalance, which is why life is exciting in the first place.

And we all have to live with the fact every single day. The energy world has to daily spend a large amount simply to make-up for turbulent energy loss, because that is nature's way.

And isn't it just weird but so revealing at the same time, that human-attempted control over the elements is criticized, by filmmakers who used some of the best film technology had to offer, in order to manipulate the elements and even time itself to enhance impressions of natural purity?


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