Thursday, February 27, 2014


Directed by Godfrey Reggio, Koyaanisqatsi is a non-narrative documentary that explores a world that is ever-changing where humans become dependent on technology at a rapid pace. With the film’s title defined as life out of balance, it’s a visually-entrancing film that explores a world that is becoming lost by modern society that destroys old and peaceful environments for something new and discomforting. The result is one of the most groundbreaking films that redefines the idea of documentary and cinema itself.

The film is a non-narrative piece that explores the world shot in the span of a few years about the modern world becoming more engrossed by technology and such to the point that humanity becomes somewhat more machine-like as the sense of natural orders and such cease to exist. Even as time starts to move much faster at a pace that is dizzying where some people couldn’t even keep up that speed. It’s a world that director Godfrey Reggio is stating as the film’s title translation is life out of balance in the Hopi language. What he states definitely has a lot of truth as he begins the film with images of old cave drawings and images of mountains, lakes, and landscapes that have such beauty as it is a world that isn’t in need of any change.

Through the entrancing cinematography of Ron Fricke who co-edit’s the film with Anton Walpole, the film would start out as this calm and serene with these images of clouds moving and sunlight beaming on the landscape. With the help of Philip Glass’ ominous score that is a mixture of operatic, orchestral bombast with eerie and dense electronic music. With additional music from Michael Hoenig, the music would intensify to play into the chaotic moments of the film such as the images of a modern world working at a rapid pace as Fricke and Walpole’s editing has a sense of style through the cutting to showcase images where everything is fast though there’s shots of people moving slowly as they’re either oblivious or unable to keep up with the world around them.

The image of life in the cities of New York and Los Angeles moving at such a rapid pace all in the span of 24 hours showcase some entrancing images through Fricke’s camera as there’s a richness but also an ugliness to these images. Images that includes a shot of the beach where the camera would move back to showcase a power-plant in the background. There’s also a lot of visual metaphors about the way people work and walk through escalators and such in contrast to the way hot dog wieners and Twinkies are moving around in assembly lines. All of which play to a world that is ravaged by this chaos where things are moving too fast as they’re disrupting some of the natural environments around them. Overall, Reggio creates a truly mesmerizing and astonishing film about a world troubled by modernism and humanity losing it sense of balance.

Koyaanisqatsi is a tremendous film from Godfrey Reggio. Not only is it one of the most visually-entrancing films of its kind as it re-defines the idea of what a documentary can be. It’s also a film that showcases that not relying on a narrative or any kind of structure that is akin to cinema can happen if done properly if all that is needed is just striking images and captivating music to help tell the story thanks in part to cinematographer Ron Fricke and music composer Philip Glass. In the end, Koyaanisqatsi is a magnificent film from Godfrey Reggio.

Godfrey Reggio Films: Powaqqatsi - Naqoyqatsi - (Visitors (2013 film))

© thevoid99 2014


Anonymous said...

LOL, when I saw Koyaanisqatsi I thought you just banged your palms on the keyboard...but this is a FILM!!! Sounds pretty cool too. Now that I'm kind of getting into these docs, I'll have to check this out.

ruth said...

Ha..ha.. Andrew's comment made me laugh, boy I wouldn't know how to pronounce Koyaanisqatsi! I think I've heard of it, sounds fascinating and I like Philip Glass' musical style, so yeah, I'm down for this one. Great review Steven!

thevoid99 said...

@Fisti-It's definitely like no other film as it was a re-watch for me as I've seen it years ago and seeing it recently made realize that it still holds up. A truly amazing film.

@ruth-It's a unique film that isn't like anything. You might've heard the music as it was used in Watchmen.