Sunday, June 2, 2013


Koyaanisqatsi; experimental film/ documentary, USA, 1982; D: Godfrey Reggio

A pictogram in Utah... Archive footage of the Saturn V rocket being launched... Images of clouds, a desert and a canyon... Fields of flowers are exchanged for fields of several power plants... A series of buildings are destroyed in a controlled demolition... A metropolis at night, with the moon and clouds passing by the skyscraper. Thousands of cars drive at night... People working at an assembly line... Passer-bys walking on the streets... Images of microchips are juxtaposed with satellite images of a city... The movie then finally returns back to the Saturn V rocket and the pictogram.

Similarly like Herzog's "Fata Morgana" - but without any narration - Godfrey Reggio decided to make an experimental documentary film where the main protagonist is Earth itself, not its inhabitants. "Koyaanisqatsi" ultimately advanced into a cult film, paving the way for future similar documentaries that present raw images of the world and just allow viewers to 'decipher' deeper meanings by themselves, like "Samsara" and "Baraka". There is no plot in "Koyaanisqatsi" - no action, no events - the main action is just Earth's essence, what is all around us. As such, the film is unusual and original, since Reggio decided to try out something daring, yet as a whole the magic of the mood is not that all-encompassing or intense, whereas the concept was slightly disrupted when it allowed human characters in it, who seem unnecessary, since it started out just as an observation of nature, since those kind of scenes sometimes reached almost a dreamy mood (clouds "flowing" down a mountain just like a waterfall; fields of flowers), as opposed to the human world, not its civilization per se, since even that has a few aesthetically pleasant moments (the fast motion scene of a car driving through a city at night, leaving a long streak of several lights). The stock footage is also uneven, an "intruder" in the structure, yet the movie does indeed present our common, daily world with new eyes, as if viewed through the perspectives of an alien from another planet.


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