Koyaanisqatsi

Over the next few weeks I will be showing some of the non-verbal films that I have been impressed with.

Koyaanisqatsi was made in 1983 through the combined efforts of three great artists in their own fields: Godfrey Reggio who directed the film, Ron Fricke, who was the main photographer, and Philip Glass, who composed the music.

It was such a landmark effort in the history of cinematography it started a new genre, and all similar films that have been made in its wake are forever indebted to the original vision of these three men.

The title is a Hopi word with many meanings, but that adopted by the distributers at least is Life out of Balance, and that really does seem to be the theme of the film.

Other Hopi prophecies are chanted throughout the film:

  • If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster
  • Near the day of Purification, there will be cobwebs spun back and forth in the sky
  • A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky, which could burn the land and boil the oceans.

Filmed entirely in the Americas, it starts with the primitive paintings at the Great Gallery in Horseshoe Canyon, Utah and ends several millennium later with the explosion of the Atlas rocket in the 1960s.

In between we see the effect that technology has been having over people, both elevating their abilities and at the same time destroying their humanity.

In the end titles credit for inspiration is given to Jaques Ellul, Ivan Illich, David Monongye, Guy Debord and Leopold Kohr, all of whom are key counter-culture thinkers in the 20th century.

 

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Horseshoe Canyon
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