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Using montage techniques, Naqoyqatsi combines forms of mass media altered with digital techniques to create a swirling chronicle of the influence of technology, reflecting the ever-increasing globalisation of the world and the societies contained within it.
Academy Award®-winning director Steven Soderbergh (Best Director, Traffic, 2000) presents Naqoyqatsi (“Life As War”), from filmmaker Godfrey Reggio, in collaboration with composer Philip Glass, whose original score features renowned cellist yo-yo Ma. in this cinematic concert – a follow-up to the critically acclaimed Koyaanisqatsi (“Life out of Balance”), and Powaqqatsi (“Life in transformation”) – mesmerising images are plucked from everyday reality, then visually altered to chronicle the shift from a world organised by the principals of nature to one dominated by technology, the synthetic and the virtual. Extremes of intimacy and spectacle, tragedy and hope fuse in a tidal wave of visuals and music, giving rise to a unique artistic experience that reflects Reggio’s vision of a brave new globalised world. --This text refers to the Blu-ray edition.
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Nagoyqatsi deconstructs everything : the virtual world is shown to be as real as the artificial, and self-imposed, constructs of society. Images of endless computer banks meld into endless rows of skyscrapers... footage of nature is seamlessly morphed into traffic, into people, into rows of numbers, rain, and a truly terrifying montage of nuclear explosions. Rain becomes a series of endlessly rotating Zeroes and Ones, frame graphics of houses, diagrams of nuclear explosions, and ghostly abandoned buildings. Every form of violence - both real and imagined - from the virtual world of Doom to the LA Riots.
The rule of Nagoyqatsi is not only that of "Life as war" but that mankind itself is at war with everything else. "A way of life that consumes others in order to survive". Mankind cannibalises anything and everything in its unthinking quest to reproduce like a virus. Symbols meld into each other, the dollar, the yen, the Pizza Hut logo, all transform into Swastikas, cogs, wheels, and all these things become clear. Far more than its predecessors, Nagoyqatsi is explicit in it's imagery : in our quest for all things to be faster, quicker, better, more, we will soon be extending beyond ourselves. We will consume beyond ourselves, devour ourselves, extinct ourselves.
At the films conclusion we see just how fragile we are. The world shrinks to nothing. Stars surround us, and the earth becomes just another light twinkling in the envelope of space. A beautiful as the view from a spaceship overlooking the earth, as chilling as seeing a crisscross pattern of lines from the same spaceship, vapour trails from ICBM's, the soft, small spots of lights on the earths surface that used to be cities and could now be explosions. Nagoyqatsi is our warning. This world is fragile. Our life hangs in the balance. We will destroy ourselves should we not want to save ourselves.
All this is impressive and effective, but it also makes the film difficult to understand and even to watch. Where the 'natural' images of the previous films spoke for themselves, here everything is (openly) calculated and deliberate, which in turn means that the viewer must not simply observe but also interpret - frantically. Glass's score is very fine and helps 'humanise' the imagery, but I for one am going to have to watch this again to get to grips with it. However, I believe it will be worth the effort.
The film relies more heavily on technology than the first two, but then with a fifteen year gap between the 2nd and 3rd films, it can be said that the technology was not available when the first two films were made. Had it been, they may not have had the impact that they have, even now. Is all progress progress? Certainly followers of Godfrey Reggio, the director, will be familiar with this quandary and in that sense alone the film does not disappoint.
Reasons to buy this DVD? The film didn't receive a wide release in the UK and the images and music are definitely worth the paltry price of the DVD. In fact they are worth a great deal more! Additionally, on the DVD is a panel discussion that took place at New York University just before NAQOYQATSI was released in the US. This feature gives a tremendous insight into the whole Qatsi trilogy and the particular contributions of the collaborators of this film. Fans of the Qatsi trilogy should buy the DVD just to see this feature. The other extras however are perfunctory.
If you enjoy this film, also look out for a short film entitled: "The Rumour of True Things" directed by Paul Bush.
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I watched it and rediscovered that it is, to my mind, simply not on a par...Read more