Koyaanisqatsi — First-time filmmaker Godfrey Reggio's experimental documentary from 1983--shot mostly in the desert Southwest and New York City on a tiny budget with no script, then attracting the support of Francis Ford Co... more »ppola and George Lucas and enlisting the indispensable musical contribution of Philip Glass--delighted college students on the midnight circuit and fans of minimalism for many years. Meanwhile, its techniques, merging cinematographer Ron Fricke's time-lapse shots (alternately peripatetic and hyperspeed) with Glass's reiterative music (from the meditative to the orgiastic)--as well as its ecology-minded imagery--crept into the consciousness of popular culture. The influence of Koyaanisqatsi, or "life out of balance," has by now become unmistakable in television advertisements, music videos, and, of course, similar movies such as Fricke's own Chronos and Craig McCourry's Apogee. Reggio shot a sequel, Powaqqatsi (1988), and completed the trilogy with Naqoyqatsi (2002). Koyaanisqatsi provides the uninitiated the chance to see where it all started--along with an intense audiovisual rush. Powaqqatsi
Powaqqatsi (1988), or "life in transformation," is the second part of a trilogy of experimental documentaries whose titles derive from Hopi compound nouns. The now legendary Koyaanisqatsi (1983), or "life out of balance," was the first. Naqoyqatsi (2002), or "life in war," was the third. Powaqqatsi finds director Godfrey Reggio somewhat more directly polemical than before, and his major collaborator, the composer Philip Glass, stretching to embrace world music. Reggio reuses techniques familiar from the previous film (slow motion, time-lapse, superposition) to dramatize the effects of the so-called First World on the Third: displacement, pollution, alienation. But he spends as much time beautifully depicting what various cultures have lost--cooperative living, a sense of joy in labor, and religious values--as he does confronting viewers with trains, airliners, coal cars, and loneliness. What had been a more or less peaceful, slow-moving, spiritually fulfilling rural existence for these "silent" people (all we hear is music and sound effects) becomes a crowded, suffocating, accelerating industrial urban hell, from Peru to Pakistan. Reggio frames Powaqqatsi with a telling image: the Serra Pelada gold mines, where thousands of men, their clothes and skin imbued with the earth they're moving, carry wet bags up steep slopes in a Sisyphean effort to provide wealth for their employers. While Glass juxtaposes his strangely joyful music, which includes the voices of South American children, a number of these men carry one of their exhausted comrades out of the pit, his head back and arms outstretched--one more sacrifice to Caesar. Nevertheless, Reggio, a former member of the Christian Brothers, seems to maintain hope for renewal. --Robert Burns Neveldine« less
"Finally, the first two movies of the Qatsi-Trilogy are available on DVD. Since the movies are an individually different experience (hypnotic and mind-boggling for one, dull and boring for others) I won't try to explain the content.
The DVD Version is 16:9 enhanced which is, in fact, a mutilation of the original 4:3 picture. The cover states "as seen in theaters", but I have seen it in theaters many times and never saw it vertically chopped like this. Essential parts of the picture are missing, all this just to please people, who like
their 16:9 TV-screens filled. What is the point in omitting vertical information just to enhance the resolution of the cropped picture? You can see in almost every frame that there is something wrong, not fitting quite well. This is simply because the camerapeople certainly filmed most of the footage in 4:3, not with modern widescreen-lunacy in mind. I don't really enjoy the DVD's, I rather put in the VHS copy of Koyaanisqatsi made from Laserdisc or the german DVD-version of Powaqqatsi, which is in the correct non-cropped aspect ratio. 16:9 enhancement is fine when done on widescreen movies, but not this time.
5 stars for the movies, 2 stars for the DVD's."
FINALLY available commercially on DVD, BUT....
(4 out of 5 stars)
"....as another reviewer has said, KOYAANISQATSI is CROPPED. I own the limited edition DVD that was sold as a fundraiser around a year ago by the Institute for Regional Education (IRE) and it is in 4:3. The new MGM so-called "widescreen" release simply adds black bars to the top and bottom of the screen, with NO extra width shown- the other reviewer is 100% correct! I compared the IRE DVD with the new MGM commercial release on two DVD players at the same time, and the size of each picture is exactly the same, but the MGM release has black bars blocking Ron Fricke's cinematography. The bars take away 2 inches from the top and bottom of the screen of my 32" TV, or 4 inches of picture height total. I love widescreen movies, but purposely blocking out what was originally filmed is RIDICULOUS. KOY was originally filmed in 4:3, not widescreen.These films are the two greatest combinations of music and film ever made- it's just a shame to see KOY treated so poorly. Nice interviews with Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass and cheap price still makes it a must-buy. All we can hope for is maybe a "special edition" in the future that's done right as this release is apparently selling pretty well.Right now, the best KOY sound is found on the laserdisc, and the best picture is found on the limited edition IRE DVD which is no longer available. I'm so happy I didn't sell it! It's a priceless collector's item now!I haven't yet checked the new MGM DVD of POWAQQATSI compared to my VHS POW videotape as far as the black bars taking away picture from the original- but the new POW DVD indeed has an incredible picture quality and the soundtrack fared very well in the conversion to Dolby Digital- it sounds excellent. KOY sounds muffled and too rolled off in the highs.Steve Glassfan"
Moving and thought-provoking
A. Hawley | PORTLAND, OR USA | 12/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Koyaanisqatsi" has held up well over the years since I first saw it at the cinema. Its images were almost all as powerful via this DVD as I remember them having been 20 years ago. Those that have worn a little thin--notably the transition from a satellite view of a city to an extreme close-up of a computer chip--have done so because they have been so often imitated and repeated since "Koyaanisqatsi" was first seen. I found "Powaqqatsi" less riveting on this first viewing than "Koyaanisqatsi," but noticed that it resonated longer in my mind and provoked more thought and conversation later. Its images and ideas have remained with me for weeks now.The "Qatsi" films are unique works, neither documentary nor entertainment in the strict sense of either term. Nor are they mere visual social commentaries. The music of Philip Glass, the amazing, often context-less cinematography, the editing, and the philosophical underpinnings that drive the enterprise, all combine in a work that defies categorization but can't fail to stir the viewer.The DVDs each contain a commentary section featuring writer-directory Godfrey Reggio and composer Glass. The commentaries provide some concreteness in the vast abstraction of the work, but I made the mistake of watching the "Powaqqatsi" commentary before seeing the film, and it diminished the film's impact. I recommend savoring the films themselves at least once before going to the commentaries."
KOYAANISQATSI - make the DVD please!
Peter Senna | New York, NY United States | 05/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw Koyaanisquatsi as a teenager in the mid 80's, on a public television station, quite by chance. I was flipping through the channels when the time-lapse photography caught my eye. I didn't know what I was watching, but as I continued to watch it became apparent that this was much more than just a collection of neat-o film clips. It contained a message about the earth and man's effect on it...but more than that it really conveyed a feeling of tremendous interconnectedness... By the end of the film I was very moved and impressed and vowed that one day I would have a copy of the film for myself so I could show others. Since then DVD's have become popular, and I can't imagine a more fitting film for the format. With digital sound for the music, and a crystal-clear picture for the great satilite shots, it's a beautiful thing. Who makes these decisions whether or not to release an old film on DVD? And to that person/group: What are you thinking? RELEASE KOYAANISQUATSI ON DVD!"
A Cinematic Masterpiece......Experience "Qatsi"(Life)!...
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 08/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review refers to "Koyaanisqatsi" and "Powaqqatsi" (2-Pack) DVDs(MGM)....
You'll want to make sure that when you watch these films, you will not have any interuptions. You will not even be able to tear yourself away from a minute of these moving and mind stimulating events. So turn of the cell phone, pagers and make sure the kids are tucked safely away!
"Koyannisqatsi" and "Powaqqatsi" are the first and second in the "Qatsi" trilogy. A combination of great talents working together as one bring to film the most visually and musically stunning experience.
"Qatsi" is the Hopi word for life. In "Koyaanisqatsi", Director Godfrey Reggio, Composer Phillip Glass and Cinematographer Ron Fricke combine their brillance for "Life Out of Balance". From the beauty of Nature to the world of modern technology, the images are set to music in a documentary that needs no words.
In "Powaqqatsi" we find "Life In Transformation". Once again Reggio and Glass collaborate this time with photographers Graham Berry and Leonida Zourdoumis for yet another mesmerizng experience. Images of cultures from underdeveloped countries, and their ancient ways, toiling to make a life, set to Glass' genius will have you hypnotized.
I suggest watching the first one, and taking time to absorb it and watching the second later on. These are films to be discussed, as each person may take something different away with them. And each time you view it, the experience may be differnt for you.
The DVD's do justice to these wonderful pieces of art. The pictures in widescreen are crystal clear, colors vibrant and gorgeous. The sound is in Dolby Dig 5.1, and with the music being the dialouge for these films, adds greatly to the whole experience. There are trailers for the trilogy (I am eagerly awaiting the release of "Naqoyqatsi - Life as War" to DVD), and some insightful commentary by the filmakers. This commentary is in the form of a featurette, not viewed during the film.
Putting them together in this two-pack was a great idea, and the price is right for these cinematic treats.
Go for it..and enjoy...Laurie
also recommended: Three Colors Trilogy (Red / White / Blue) [Import](All-region)(Remastered) Film-Fest DVD - Issue 3 - Toronto Short 6 - Insanity"