Prepare to experience a truly remarkable filma cinematic masterpiece so extraordinary that it regales the senses, stimulates the mind and actually 'redefines the potential of filmmaking (The Hollywood Reporter). Celebrate... more »d director Godfrey Reggio, innovative cinematographer Ron Fricke and Golden Globe-winning* composer Philip Glass have created a 'spellbinding [film] so rich in beauty and detail that with each viewing it becomes a new and different film (Leonard Maltin). Unique profound mesmerizing and thought-provoking (Boxoffice), Koyaanisqatsi contrasts the tranquil beauty of nature with the frenzied hum of contemporary urban society. Uniting breathtaking imagery with a hauntingly evocative, award-winning score, it is original and fascinating (People) one of the greatest films of all time (Uncut). *1998: Score (with Burkhard Dallwitz), The Truman Show« less
I have to admit I went into this film pretty sure I was going to hate it. Definitely an "artsy fartsy" film as I like to call it. There is not one word of dialogue in the entire movie. The entire movie is based off the pictures it presents and leaves it open to the viewer on what meaning they take away. It is definitely an environmentally themed movie. I usually hate movies that try to preach about humans needing to treat the earth better...blah blah blah. But this movie actually got to me more than any other movie by not saying anything at all.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Aspect Ratio Correct (with some background info)
Joe Beirne | New York, NY United States | 09/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The issue with the aspect ratio of the MGM DVDs of KOYAANISQATSI and POWAQQATSI has come up here and on the Amazon website, among other places. As a producer and technical advisor on the third Qatsi film, while I was not directly involved in the process of manufacturing these DVDs, I was well aware of the decision-making behind that process. I can say definitively that the 1:1.85 aspect ratio (letter-boxed) on the MGM DVDs accurately reflects the author's intentions and reproduces the original theatrical aspect ratio of the projected films.KOYAANISQATSI and POWAQQATSI were both principally photographed in the 1980s, when widescreen television was a vague idea somewhere off in the future and a large picture tube was 27" across. While conceived as theatrical features, both films were shot with consideration of possible television broadcast, which at that time was almost exclusively full-frame 1:1.33 (4x3). The alternative to "protecting" for 4x3 by composing the image to work well in full frame would have been to "pan and scan" the widescreen image when transferred to videotape for home video release and TV broadcast.I am sure that anyone who has seen KOYAANISQATSI and POWAQQATSI would agree the pan and scan approach would have yielded a ludicrous result for these films: for this reason when the films have been broadcast they are presented in the full "academy" aperture of 4x3, showing _more_of the original film frame than was shown in the theater. And when video transfers of the films were made prior to the MGM DVD they were also made 1:1.33. This reflected the conventional practice at the time, when very few films were transferred to video wide-screen. However in the past few years there has been a markedly increased interest in wide-screen home video and the the technical means to display wide-screen video adequately in the home has become commonplace, arising chiefly from the popularity of larger displays. Reflecting this new environment the decision was taken now to release the films on DVD in their original 1:1.85 aspect ratio. I repeat that this image is exactly as originally intended by the director, Godfrey Reggio and the cinematographers.I don't mean to imply that the 4x3 image in earlier transfers is somehow "invalid". I think this way of watching the films is very interesting.
It is a mark of how carefully crafted were these films that both ratios work very well. However, in no sense is the viewer of the MGM DVDs "losing" something by watching the films as they are shown as a motion picture, at 1.85, anymore than the audience was "missing something" watching the premier of KOYAANISQATSI at Radio City Music Hall in 1983. Joe Beirne
Yikes !! Have we been HAD ??
Roy Kristiansen | Seattle, WA United States | 09/17/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"First, the good news: Koyaanisqatsi is finally available commercially in DVD format.Next, the bad news: The film image has been CROPPED! "Enhanced", if you will, for widescreen TVs. The disc's case says, "16:9 WIDESCREEN 1.85:1 -- Theatrical release format." Bull ! I've seen Koyaanisqatsi in the theater and was immediately struck by the fact it was being projected in the standard 4:3 (1.33:1) aspect ratio--not widescreen ! I'm no fan of pan-and-scan hatchet-jobs on widescreen films, but neither am I a fan of this equally reprehensible practice of cutting away significant portions of a film's top and bottom just so it will fit comfortably on somebody's new [expensive]16:9 50" plasma wall-set. Just as P&S deprives us of frequently vital side information, here we are deprived of the beauty of Ron Fricke's *full-screen* images. And, man, do things look cramped up there. Do I dare lay the blame on MGM, rather than on the Institute for Regional Education, which owns the film ? In any event, it's a pity, a real pity ! And a shame !The other bad news is that the 5.1 soundtrack on this new disc is muffled, dull and lacking in definition and depth when compared to the privately-issued disc the IRE made available some time ago. Surround effects that were so obvious in the theater are nowhere to be heard here. I don't know if the IRE is still making their offer, now that this new MGM disc is in stores; but if you're a true Koyaanisqatsi devotee, and can ante up the money for a donation, my advice to you is to give it some *serious* consideration. It's absolutely worth it !I'd really hoped this new release would be a dream-come-true, but now having viewed it, the only satisfaction I take is that I still have my private copy of the IRE disc..."
The DVD was hacked.
John M Strain | Indianapolis, Indiana United States | 10/02/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I've seen the "explanations" put forth by the spokespeople. They don't make sense. If you saw the film as originally presented, or, like me, you happened to own an old home video version of this film, you'd be outraged. The MGM/UA version of this film is hacked. The "letterboxing" is artificial. I could create quite a list of wonderful things you AREN'T SEEING in this DVD version because of the artificial black bars covering the top and bottom of the screen. This can't be right. I loved this film. The new MGM/UA DVD is just wrong. The single star is for this DVD version. I wish I could give the five stars this film deserves, but I can't. I can't watch the DVD because it ticks me off. I'll just fire up my ol' Laserdisc and see the WHOLE film. ...And wait for a full-screen version of the DVD to come out so I'd have to buy Koyaanisqatsi AGAIN."
No Film Comes Close
Graham C. White | Longmont, CO United States | 09/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Everyone obviously has taste and opinion, but simply put, this is my favorite movie of all time (altho, as at least one other reviewer mentioned, not as powerful as the big screen). There is no film like it, except perhaps the Imax film Chronos (which is basically the eye candy with no substance) and possibly the sequel. But those are only similarities in style of filmmaking, not in quality.
But I will say, while it's my favorite movie, I can only stand to watch it about every 5 years, because for about 3-4 days after watching Koyaanisqatsi, I can barely deal with this society. It just makes me want to cry to drive on city streets.
So if you're already trying to come to grips with reality, this movie probably would be counter-productive. But for everybody who thinks everything about modern western civilization truly is "progress", I couldn't recommend this film enough.
What it will be for those people, is a priceless perspective adjustment. It won't make you permanently pessimistic or anything, it will just give you a new perspective."
Life, and a world really out of balance
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 03/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first of Godfrey Reggio's finally finished trilogy, Koyaanisqatsi, is a visually-stunning non-narrative film depicting a life and world out of balance. Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word meaning one of five things: "crazy life, life in turmoil, life disintegrating, life out of balance, and a state of life that calls for another way of living." After watching this film, one will definitely see all five definitions painfully applicable.Basically, the first fifteen to twenty minutes of the film has some wonderful shots of the desert, waterfalls, geologic formations, clouds billowing so close it's as if one's inside them, and aerial photography that makes one appreciate the landscape.The rest of the movie then shows the human side. Caterpillar tractors lay out pipes, dotting the landscape with a network of electric towers, resembling wire framework travesties of men, power plants billowing steam and smoke smack in the middle of the desert, atomic tests in the desert, nuclear plants... abominations invading the environment. Rivers have been stopped by dams. And the military testing in the desert does nothing more than pollute the ground and air with explosions.Switch over to the big city and the 12 lane highways, with its network of overpasses, byways, merging lanes, cars moving bumper to bumper, passing each other. Then we see the decrepit slums, abandoned projects, which are then blown up, slowly sinking to the ground in clouds of dust.The time-lapse photography of people milling in line for subway tickets, eating, bowling, playing video games, etc. shows the city as the organism, streets, entrances and exits as blood vessels, humans as the blood cells. The night scenes of traffic, with white and red dashes zipping is very telling, as is the cycle of traffic going, stopping, going, stopping at each signal light. Later on, the speed of the film goes quicker, to demonstrate the quickening rate and insanity of human consumption, waste, and stress. Is this really worth living for, I ask you?There are some images that are analogous. An aerial view of the concrete jungle, at what we've created, is replaced by an infrared satellite photo, then a closeup of a computer chip, showing the inputs going into multiplexers and demultiplexers, coming out as outputs. It shows how mechanized we have become compared to the more serene, less chaotic ways of nature, going in one way, going out through another. Another is a shot of sausages being cranked out, followed by people moving up escalators. Notice the similarity?The most telling shots of the thousands of people in New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco is that they don't look very happy at all, but for them, it's what they know, what they are, part of this mechanized, corporate world.The translation of Hopi prophecies sung in the movie follow the conclusion, and they are sobering and chilling: "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 through the sky." "A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky, which could burn the land and boil the oceans."Philip Glass's score, which alternates from frenetic synthesizers during the time-lapse footage and elegiac sobriety in the slo-mo shots, adds to this one-of-a-kind movie. However, this is best seen on the big screen for maximum impact."