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Movies without words, that will keep you glued to the screen
on 8 January 2003
Director Godfrey Reggio and Composer Phillip Glass collaborated on a number of "movies without words". This DVD includes "Koyaanisqatsi" and "Powaqqatsi". Both have a similar approach. The most legendary of the two is Koyaanisqatsi, and this disk is worth getting, just to have that movie.
Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi Indian word, one of its meanings being "Life Out of Balance". This is a little misleading, since principally what Reggio is portraying in this film is the effect of machines and technology on people, and where we fit in to it. I say "what Reggio is portraying", but that is inaccurate. It is really what Reggio _and_ Phillip Glass, the soundtrack composer, are portraying. The soundtrack through this wordless movie is continuous and is as important as the images. If you have never heard Phillip Glass' music before, it is a sort of repetitive classical music called "process" music or "minimalist". It works through repetition, hypnotic effects and dynamic build-up. It can be very very effective.
In fact in this movie the music has an almost drug-like effect. During the slower scenes of the movie, there is slower repetitive music, and I felt myself relaxing into it. But during the very fast scenes in the movie, the music is ridiculously fast, and the effect is very invigorating. I almost felt like punching the air at times!
So what exactly are these scenes? Well they are slow panning, slow-motion, fast motion, and normal motion scenes of nature, technology, people, cities, etc. If you have seen the movie "Baraka" you may know what I'm talking about (Koyaanisqatsi created a genre, of which Baraka has become a part). Using scenes of the desert, of the moon rising, of buildings being demolished, of freeway footage sped-up, and of subway stations at a blur, Reggio documents mans' integration and dependency on technology, and how it affects us. And he does this in brilliant synergy with Phillip Glass' music.
This is no "difficult" or "experimental" movie in the sense you may be thinking. It is captivating and exciting. I had a group of friends round to watch the DVD, some of whom liked art-house movies, and some of whom didn't. They were all impressed by Koyaanisqatsi.
If you want a new, exciting and engrossing experience in movies, then check out this DVD. If you just want to see some great filming, and to hear some fabulous process/minimalist music, then check out this DVD. If you want to feel that you've experienced something extraordinary and deep, and seen the world in a new light, and been given a great buzz from doing all of that, then check out this DVD.