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GODFREY REGGIO'S AMAZING FILMS
Koyaanisqatsi (1982) is the first film of the Reggio's Qatsi trilogy: it is followed by Powaqqatsi (1988) and Naqoyqatsi (2002). The trilogy depicts different aspects of man's relationship with the Earth. While Koyaanisqatsi is "life out of balance," Powaqqatsi is "life in transformation" or "parasitic life" and Naqoyqatsi is "life as war" or "civilized violence." Koyaanisqatsi is the best known out the trilogy and is considered a cult film for being the first of its kind.
In the Hopi language, "Koyaanisqatsi" means unbalanced life. The 1982 Koyaanisqatsi film is a revolutionary work of art that depicts the modern world as a system dangerously out of balance with nature. There is no dialogue, but instead a combination of music and imagery that culminates into a form of visual poetry. The director, Godfrey Reggio explained the lack of dialogue by stating "it's not for lack of love of the language that these films have no words. It's because, from my point of view, our language is in a state of vast humiliation. It no longer describes the world in which we live (Essence of Life (DVD)."
Reggio further states that the Qatsi films are intended to create an experience and that it is ultimately up to the viewer to decide what the film means. He mentions, "these films have never been about the effect of technology, of industry on people. It's been that everyone: politics, education, things of the financial structure, the nation state structure, language, the culture, religion, all of that exists within the host of technology. So it's not the effect of, it's that everything exists within [technology]. It's not that we use technology, we live technology. Technology has become as ubiquitous as the air we breathe (Essence of Life (DVD)."
The word "koyaanisqatsi" is chanted in the beginning and end of the film as part of the score. Three Hopi prophesies are also sung by a choral ensemble during the film. They are translated just prior to the end credits:
While the first film focused on life in modern countries, the following film Powaqqatsi focused more on the conflict in the third world.
The final film Naqoyqatsi focuses on society's transformation from a natural environment into a technology based world.
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Order the Qatsi Trilogy on Amazon