Hailed by audiences and critics around the world as mesmerizing (The Detroit News), this second installment of writer/director Godfrey Reggio's apocalyptic qatsi trilogy is quite simply one of the most magnificent vis... more »ual and aural spectacles ever made (L.A. Daily News)! Combining stunning cinematography with the exquisite music of award-winning composer Philip Glass, Powaqqatsi is a breathtaking experience working on many levels'emotional, spiritual, intellectual andaesthetic (The Hollywood Reporter)! Bold, haunting and epic in scale, this extraordinary film calls into question everything we think we know about contemporary society. By juxtaposing images of ancient cultures with those of modern life, Powaqqatsi masterfully portrays the human cost of progress. It is a film that engages the soul as well as the mind; it is truly an absorbing experience (Movies on TV and Videocassette).« less
This might be the only review you'll need to read.
Rykre | Carson City, Nevada | 11/09/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I first watched this film last night, I was rather disappointed. It was different in a BIG way from "Koyaanisqatsi". I then went to sleep going over the images that I saw in this film as I slept. The next morning, I had myself set down to watch it again. I learned this time, that my perspective was all wrong. I thought, probably just like everybody else, that this second installment of the "qatsi" trilogy was suppose to be more of what we saw in "Koyaanisqatsi." We shouldn't think this way at all. Don't connect these two films as if they belong together. They ARE two separate projects with two separate ideas to be viewed with the mind's eye.
"Powaqqatsi" is a masterful piece of work addressing a cold and/or warm view of several third world countries. Godfrey Reggio gave us this visual exactly as we should see it. Maybe it wasn't as FUN to watch as "Koyaaniqatsi", but, I really don't think Reggio is trying to entertain us, as much as he is trying to inform us about our world without the use of words. Which, in itself, is an act of genius. To tell us what he is showing us, would present it all as "some guy's opinion" which could arouse doubt and argument. He gave us the world in a way that allows us to say what we see and can form our own opinion of what we see. This allows everyone to walk away from this film with a different perspective than somebody sitting right beside them watching it.
This film is definitely very colorful. There is beauty in the devastation. Plus there is unpleasant discourse in what seems to present a sense of order. All in all, it's a window to another part of the world that we may never see in our own real lives.
However, if you still have doubts about the integrity of "Powaqqatsi." Think of this DVD as a great music video collection from "Philip Glass". The music on this DVD is truly awesome! And much more glorifying, as a whole, than the music of "Koyaanisqatsi". "Powaqqatsi" is a great DVD to have on to listen to when you don't feel like watching ANY TV.
"Powaqqatsi" is it's own masterpiece! Not a follow-up. And the third film in the "qatsi" trilogy, is also its own work of art. It too, should not be preceived as, yet another follow-up to Reggio's other two films.
I hope my review has optimistically enhanced your perspective."
Please watch this trilogy in order.
FrontPage | Baltimore, MD United States | 09/09/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Powaqqatsi (1988) is the second DVD in the Qatsi trilogy, an I suggest that you consider watching this release second. The first to view is Koyaanisqatsi (1983); the third, Naqoyqatsi (2002). With the filming of the trilogy taking over 20 years to complete, the advances in the music, technology and filming makes me suggest that you start from the beginning to watch how things have changed in that time. POWA (Powaqqatsi) focuses on life for people mainly in the southern hemisphere. Please also view my review of KOYA (Koyaanisqatsi), which I will complete shortly after submitting this. I plan to soon purchase NAQO (Naqoyqatsi) and will review that as well (obviously I found the film concept entertaining).KOYA focuses on the northern hemisphere's lifestyles of living with technology in all aspecfts of their lives while POWA shows life that is more driven by manual labor. Yet as the movie progresses, you see more and more hints of the introduction of technology, which will inevitably wind up permeating and consuming the current culture. Watch for the placement of a SEIKO billboard, which really stuck in my mind.It can be difficult not to feel some sense of pain for the people's lifestyles, but please stay open- minded to an understanding that perhaps the lifestyle that DP's Graham Berry and Leonidas Zourdoumis documented is what the subjects being filmed are most comfortable with. Watching POWA first, however, may take the whole trilogy out of order and context for you. That's why I suggest that you purchase the two- DVD set. And I'm sure that plans have been in the works to release the trilogy as a boxed set. Make certain also to watch director Godfrey Reggio's comments (highlighted with composer Philip Glass). They give insight into filming and Reggio also addresses viewer/critic feedback. One sharp criticism I wanted to note was that Glass used some of the music in this film years later for the runaway hit "Truman Show" (Jim Carrey, 1998). How silly and petty to reuse a score in a completely different movie, which I feel should be a Cardinal sin. I had to try tuning out Truman in my mind while watching POWA, and I scold Glass for recycling his music. That was an absolutely pathetic decision for him to make.The transfer from the film to DVD (MGM/UA 1003767) was sweet. The colors seemed stunning and saturated. Make certain, however to try having your monitor calibrated to get the full impact of the hues, colors and tones.Tech specs: 1988, color, 97 minutes, 1.85:1 screen aspect ratio; optional French and Spanish subtitles for English text (there is absolutely NO dialogue in POWA), which is used at the end of the film to give description of term "Powaqqatsi" (and also for any prominent text on some billboards or televisions). A postscript: Baraka (filmed by Ron Fricke, 1992) isn't related to the trilogy, but should be in your collection if you enjoy any of these. However watch Baraka last, because to me it is the benchmark in this type of filmmaking. You may feel a slight letdown KOYA and POWA if Baraka is viewed first. Chronos (1985), another by Fricke, is an alternate choice, but the weakest of these."
A Film for Transforming Perceptions
Alan L. Paris | 06/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some reviewers have expressed confusion or displeasure over the message of this film. Having attended a question-and-answer session with the director, Godfrey Reggio, and worked as an editor in the journalism field, I hope I can assist in interpretation. Here is mine in a nutshell: Exploitation produces poverty.
The principle that the filmmakers were seeking to illustrate was that while colonization comes in diverse forms, it is always destructive in the end -- even if the means are through economic domination rather than brute occupation. So-called "civilized" societies prey upon the Third World for their own gain, thereby ravaging the spirit of its people, depleting the natural resources of its nations, and tainting the uniqueness of its cultures.
The film reveals scenes that the U.S. media often fail to show -- the backbreaking labor and environmental destruction inflicted as offerings to the almighty Profit. The altar of financial markets generates our wealth (the trilogy's first film, Koyaanisqatsi, covers technology- and consumer-based culture), yet as we acquire greater strength and contentment, our business practices shorten the life span and deteriorate the quality of life in weaker countries. The extraction and importation of their very vitality seems to be the fundamental wellspring for our gross domestic product, essentially amounting to a lopsided transaction akin to parasitism.
For contrast, the music on the soundtrack incorporates energetic elements of this highly valued commodity from faraway lands: pounding rhythms, intricate phrases, meditative passages, foreign melodies, exotic harmonies, and even a dynamic children's chorus. This soundscape was intended to provide a sense of the heart and soul of the camera's subjects -- the people in the images.
I highly recommend Powaqqatsi, especially since after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it presents renewed significance and compelling insight. After all, what do Americans perceive about other cultures and the ways we affect them? For example, would not a survey of natural-born U.S. citizens indicate that only a small percentage of us know more than three common first names from the Arabic world? And how many of us are familiar with the opinions that other nations' citizens hold about our activities in their countries? For that matter, are we fully informed about the actions abroad by our government and our companies? Although a single film can't completely fill in all the gaps in our awareness, Powaqqatsi does help bring to our attention that such voids exist.
As long as a lack of understanding and concern typifies the pursuit of "capitalism" and "freedom" by the world's greatest democracies, we should anticipate that this attitude will continue to cause suffering. Powaqqatsi is a call for compassion, the true front in civilization's ongoing "war on terror," otherwise known as the fight for humanity's survival."
Moving and Mind Stimulating
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 04/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review refers to "Powaqqatsi"(DVD)...
"Qatsi" is the Hopi word for life. "Powaqqatsi"("Life In Transformation") is the second in Director Godfrey Reggio's "Qatsi" trilogy. "Koyannisqatsi" ("Life Out of Balance") is the first part and "Naqoyqatsi" ("Life as War" ) the third. A combination of great talents working together as one bring to film the most visually and musically stunning experiences.
In "Powaqqatsi" , once again Reggio and Composer Phillip 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 different for you.
The DVD does justice to this wonderful piece 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, and some insightful commentary by the filmakers. This commentary is in the form of a featurette, not viewed during the film.
"Koyannisqatsi"(also a beautiful DVD) and "Powaqqatsi" may also be purchased in a more economical two pack(each in their own case).
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!
also recommended: Short Cinema Journal 1:3 - Authority Three Colors Trilogy (Red / White / Blue) [Import](All-region)(Remastered)
Haunting, overwhelming and stangely hopeful
FrontPage | 07/23/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Video is no way to see Powaqqatsi or Koyaanisqatsi, seeing it on the big screen is the only way to capture Reggio's brilliant work. But if it is your only option, don't pass it up. I never imagined Reggio could follow up Koyaanisqatsi with such a gem...it gives me hope the third movie in the trilogy, Naqoyqatsi, will be as brilliant. Powaqqatsi shocks you out of the comfort of your safe middle class (or better) existence and reminds you that we are very much in the minority with our creature comforts. Yet, despite the haunting images and the curious juxtaposition of the Glass music, the film leaves you with courage that the human animal can rise above the harsh realities of the current state of our economically segregated world. These two movies changed my life. If you ever get a chance to see Glass perform the sound track live while he shows either move, don't miss it at any price. Now, where can I get my copy?"