Koyaanisqatsi ‘Revisited’

Forgotten DVD

         
 

08 September 2012| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Hopi Indian translation: “Life Out of Balance” 

For those of you lucky enough to have experienced Ron Fricke’s “Samsara” so far it might interest you to [re]discover the first film of its kind, Koyaanisqatsi (1983). Godfrey Reggio’s trailblazer of wordless socio-geopolitical documentary was the first of a trilogy that also included the equally wondrous “Powaqqatsi” (1988) and the sadly disappointing “Naqoyqatsi” (2002), which relied on media archives gimmicks. The world’s complexity and diversity is largely on display in this first triumph which features an abundance of dazzling and accelerated scenes of modern technology on hyperspeed.

Usage of anamorphic wide lenses, time-lapse photography, and multi-split images contributes to the film’s escalating power. The argument against the technique is that the coolness factor gets in the way of the message against globalization. We’re all smart enough to cut apart the ideas and figure that out on our own, I say. The film is an entertaining rush of free association images and ideas.

Having served as cinematographer and conceptual writer, Fricke continued on to make his own films including “Chronos” (1985); “Baraka” (1992) and the current “Samsara.” So which one is best? I was ready to say that I can’t possibly choose a favorite, that even in their similar techniques they contain their own special qualities. But “Samsara,” shot in high-resolution 70mm, is the best-looking in its sharpness, and frankly, covers more square ground of the Earth, has more exotic peoples and thorough examination of idiosyncratic traditions of other-worldly cultures.

But really, they should all be enjoyed, every title mentioned here. For cinephiles out there, yes, you could argue that “The Man with the Movie Camera” (1929, Russia) and “L’Age D’or” (1930, France) can be viewed as inspirational predecessors to the wordless socio-geopolitical documentary form.

87 Minutes. Unrated.

Film Cousins: “The Man with the Movie Camera” (1929, Russia); “L’Age D’or” (1930, France); “Powaqqatsi” (1988); “Baraka” (1992).

 

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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