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An Essay on "Koyaanisqatsi"

by

Sophie GREEN

(I wrote this essay as part of my assessment for the "Century of Cinema II" module that was taught by Ernest Mathijs at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, during the 2001/2002 session. The module looked at alternative cinema, and the essay set wasn't posed as a question, rather we were asked to look at several aspects of alternative films, focussing on one specific film of our choice.

When the questionaire, which can be found in the appendix, was conducted, some people chose to post their answers publically on the message forums of the official website for the film, where I had posted the questionnaire. However, some people chose to E-mail their answers to me instead of placing them in the public domain. Therefore, in this online version of the essay, each person who answered the questionnaire is kept anonymous. However, if any of these contributors are reading this, and would rather not be kept anonymous, feel free to contact me and I will make the necessary ammendments.)




The film that I shall be looking at in this essay is "Koyaanisqatsi", directed by Godfrey Reggio. Made over seven years and released in 1983, the film shows mans impact on nature, and the way people live their lives, focussing on American society and culture.

In James Monaco's "How to Read a Film" (3rd Edition) there is an appendix entitled "Film and Media: A Chronology". It lists key events in the history of film, and in other media and fields, such as computing. It is split into sections denoted by time periods. 1983, the year "Koyaanisqatsi" came out, is in the last section, "1981 - Present: The Digital World". "Koyaanisqatsi" is one of six items for 1983, where Monaco says,

"Koyaanisqatsi, no dialogue or narration, score by Philip Glass."

James Monaco, "How to Read a Film" (3rd Edition), p. 589

Monaco is placing the film as being significant in "The Digital World" age of films. He notes it's distinction by stating that there's no dialogue or narration, but makes a point of the composer of the music in the film, implying the music is a key part of the film, leading it to be noteworthy in a chronology of film and media.

Monaco was merely concerned with making a chronology of film and media. Where others have tried to be more specific in classifying the film there have been some problems. Different people have classified it in different ways. But all generally agree in classifying film as being part of alternative cinema, and classifying it as a documentary.

The "Radio Times Guide to Films" classifies the film as an "Experimental documentary", where the word "experimental" implies that it is an alternative film. The plot summary for the film on the Internet Movie Database says,

"Koyaanisqatsi is a documentary (of sorts)... While there is no plot in the traditional sense, there is a definate scenario."

Andrew M. Somers (on the IMDb)

This comment makes it clear that "Koyaanisqatsi" isn't like mainstream documentary films. The fact that Somers says that there isn't a plot in the "traditional" sense helps to mark out the film as alternative.

In Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell's "Film History: An Introduction" there is a chapter entitled "Documentary And Experimental Film Since The Late 1960s". "Koyaanisqatsi" is mentioned in a section of this chapter entitled "From Structuralism To Pluralism In Avant-Garde Cinema". Under the heading "New Mergers" they say,

"Avant-garde and documentary cinema had mingled since the 1920s, and they continued to do so into the 1980s. Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi (1983), an updated city symphony with a New Age aura, captured a wide audience."

Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell, "Film History: An Introduction", p. 691

As well as referring to the film as a documentary film, Bordwell and Thompson have used the terms "avant-garde" and "city symphony". "Avant-garde" places the film as being alternative in terms of its artistic nature. Bordwell and Thompson talk about city symphonies earlier in "Film History: An Introduction" (pp. 198-200), referring to it as a genre where films captured "poetic aspects of urban landscapes" (p. 198).

Carl R. Plantinga classifies the film slightly differently to Bordwell and Thompson. In his book "Rhetoric and Representation in Nonfiction Film", he mentions the film in a chapter entitled "The Poetic Voice". When talking about films that use a poetic voice he says,

"There are four major groupings of these alternative nonfiction films: the poetic documentary, the avant-garde nonfiction film, the metadocumentary, and the parodic documentary."

Carl R. Plantinga, "Rhetoric and Representation in Nonfiction Film", p. 172

In his notes for the chapter he makes the point that these groups are "but fuzzy categories" (p. 239). He goes on to say,

"The poetic documentary perhaps reached its apex during the twenties and thirties with the 'city symphony' films, although occasional poetic films have appeared throughout this century (Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi [1983], for example)."

Carl R. Plantinga, "Rhetoric and Representation in Nonfiction Film", p. 172

Plantinga places the film as an "alternative nonfiction film", and, like Bordwell and Thompson, he refers to the film as a city symphony. However, he chooses to classify the film in the "fuzzy category" of "poetic documentary" (in which he classifies all city symphonies), as opposed to "avant-garde nonfiction film".

Both Plantinga, and Bordwell and Thompson, classify the film as a relatively recent city symphony. Bordwell and Thompson have classified it as an avant-garde film, which are generally considered as alternative films. Plantinga hasn't done this, preferring to classify it as a poetic documentary, but he does place it in a larger group of alternative films.

Comments about the film in reviews also make it clear that it is an alternative film. One review (which is on the official website for the film) starts by saying,

"Faced with a film that has an unpronounceable title, no characters and no story; no dialogue and no commentary, where the conventional backgrounds - landscape and city streets, machines and crowds - have advanced to hog the screen, this critic, anyway, must admit a problem."

Alan Brien, New Statesman (UK), September 2, 1983

Here, Brien is implying that mainstream films have characters, story and dialogue/commentary, but states that "Koyaanisqatsi" doesn't. He claims that what the film does do is to bring to the foreground what is normally in the background in mainstream films.

The director himself has commented on the fact that it is an alternative film. In one review on the official website he is quoted as saying,

"Many of the film critics I've talked to see 'Koyaanisqatsi' as a cat that barks... They don't know what to do with it."

Godfrey Reggio, quoted by Joseph Gelmis in "A meditation on the high-tech life"

This implies that film critics have trouble classifying the film, therefore helping to mark it out as an alternative film.

With regards to the music in the film, in a short interview with Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass broadcast on FilmFour ("Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass on Koyaanisqatsi"), Reggio describes Glass as an "avant-garde composer". This helps enforce the view that "Koyaanisqatsi" is seen as an alternative film, as I have already stated, films that are classed by the term avant-garde are seen as being alternative.

So, what makes "Koyaanisqatsi" alternative is the fact that it has no characters, dialogue, or story. What it is made up of is a collection of images set to music. In "Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass on Koyaanisqatsi", Reggio states that he wanted a thousand pictures to be worth one word, namely the title "Koyaanisqatsi", life out of balance.

In "Film Art: An Introduction" (5th Edition), David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson talk about "Koyaanisqatsi" as a film that uses an "Associational formal system" (pp. 154-157). They state that in an associational formal system meanings are derived from associations made between images:

"...the very fact that the images and sounds are juxtaposed prods us to look for some connection - an association that binds them together."

David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, "Film Art: An Introduction (5th Edition), p.154

The juxtaposing of shots is a key factor in helping to convey a meaning to the audience in "Koyaanisqatsi". Shots aren't just randomly put together. One memorable example of this is where we see a shot of sausages going through a machine in a factory. The next shot is of people going up an escalator. The time-lapsed photography makes them appear to be going at the same speed as the sausages, and the way the shot is framed makes us associate the people on the escalators in the city with the sausages in the machines in the factories.

Bordwell and Thompson also say:

"Koyaanisqatsi illustrates the unique aspects of associational form. The film surely presents a process, but it does not tell a story in the manner of narrative filmmaking. It offers no continuing characters, no specific causal connections, and no temporal order among the scenes."

David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, "Film Art: An Introduction (5th Edition), p.156

Whilst the film doesn't have a narrative story, it is not without a structure. It opens with a shot of Hopi Indian drawings, and then shows a rocket lifting off. This is then followed by a sequence of shots showing landscapes untouched by man, showing us what the natural world is.

The first time we see people is when we see some getting into a large truck that is then engulfed by black smoke. This is during a sequence of what appears to be a quarry, where the land is being blown up.

The following section of the film is fairly slow, showing people on a beach with a large industrial building in the background, and showing a long take of two aircraft taxiing down a runway through a heat haze. After the first shots in a city, another brief sequence appears, this one being fairly fast and showing shots concerned with the military.

The next sequence shows run down buildings, some of which we see demolished. After a time-lapsed shot of clouds over a city we see a shot of people in a crowded station. People begin to feature more in shots from now on. In some shots they are even looking straight at the camera.

We then come to what is probably the best known part of the film, which is generally called "The Grid" (which is what the name of the track that features the music in this section is called on the film's soundtrack). During this section we see people as they are in the cities, as they live their lives amongst technology, and as they travel in their cars. The whole section builds up, until the music suddenly stops.

After some seemingly abstract shots which sometimes look like satellite pictures of cities, and sometimes like circuit boards, we see some more shots of individuals. We then see a last crowd shot, which is of a ghostly trading floor.

The film then comes around full circle, showing us the rocket from the start of the film. The rocket explodes, and the camera follows the falling debris. The final shot is of the Hopi Indian drawings that opened the film.

The films structure shows us the natural world first, a world untouched by man. We then see man imposing himself on nature, and then the world man has created for himself. We see how people live in this world, and get a sense of the whole thing building up until it is out of control. Finally, we see shots echoing the start of the film, where man's achievements go catastrophically wrong. The film is "bookended" by the shots of the rocket and of the Hopi Indian drawings.

Whilst the film does have a beginning, middle, and end, it is not a beginning, middle and end in time. Instead it is in ideas. There is no real sense of time in the film as a whole. Occasionally there will be a shot or a collection of shots showing the beginning or end of a day, but, other than that, there is no following of time. As to space, we're rarely sure as to where we are exactly. We know that we start off in the wilderness, untouched by man, but we're not told where this wilderness is exactly. We then move into the city, but we're not told what city, or even if we're always in the same city.

One of the most notable things about the style of the film is the speeds of the camera, particularly the time-lapsed shots. Early on in the film we see time-lapsed shots of clouds flowing over mountains, which helps to convey the power of nature. But the time-lapsed photography is particularly noticeable during "The Grid", and it is a major contributor to build up of the whole section.

Slow motion is also used in the film as well. The time-lapsed shots of the clouds over the mountains are juxtaposed with slow motion shots of waves, which again helps to show the power of nature. During "The Grid" we are occasionally shown slow motion shots of individual people which are juxtaposed with the time-lapsed shots of the busy city. This helps to focus the audience's attention to the fact that there are ordinary people living in these hectic cities.

The use of camera speeds, particularly the persistent use of time-lapsed photography, could be said to be reflexive, by the fact that they draw the audiences attention to the film technique used. Another aspect of reflexivity in the film is in a short sequence towards the end of "The Grid" where we see some people watching television, and then we are shown what is shown on the television in a time-lapsed shot. The film attempts to show how modern life is a life out of balance, and it could be said that things such as television (and films as well) help to add to the imbalance of life, and that idea is represented in this short sequence.

One key element of the film, and, in my opinion, the most important element, is the music, and it is considered important by other people. FilmFour decided to introduce their recent screening of the film with a short interview with not just the film's director, but with the composer of the music in the film as well. During the interview Reggio states that the music becomes the narration, and that it is as important as the image. It is also stated that they worked on the films structure together, and that sometimes Glass would compose the music and then Reggio would film shots to go with it.

Bordwell and Thompson say that the film avoids,

"...voice-over narration in favor of a musical accompaniment that along with juxtapositions of images creates particular moods and evokes certain concepts."

David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, "Film Art: An Introduction (5th Edition), p.417

The music is the main factor in holding the film together, in generating certain responses from the audience. It helps to convey feelings. During the sequence where we are shown shots of run down buildings, and then see some demolished, the music begins by having a very powerful, menacing feel to it. Once the buildings start to be demolished, the music seems to change ever so slightly to have a more positive feel.

By listening to the music the audience is able to feel when the next cut will be. The music generally reflects the pace of the shots. It builds up the tension in "The Grid" section alongside the time-lapsed shots, and continues the build up whilst we're seeing slow motion shots of individual people. The haunting music over the shot of the falling rocket debris is fairly slow, and helps to wind the audience down after "The Grid".

The film's alternative nature invites the audience to read the film in a different way to how they would read mainstream films. On a page on the film on the official website it is stated that,

"KOYAANISQATSI is not so much about something, nor does it have a specific meaning or value, KOYAANISQATSI is, after all, an animated object, an object in moving time, the meaning of which is up to the viewer... I realize fully that any meaning or value KOYAANISQATSI might have comes exclusively from the beholder. The film's role is to provoke, to raise questions that only the audience can answer... So in the sense of art, the meaning of KOYAANISQATSI is whatever you wish to make of it."

http://www.koyaanisqatsi.org/

(N.B. No person is credited as having written this.)

This has led to people to think about the film in different ways to how they would normally think about a film.

To help find out what people think about the film, and how they received it, I posted a questionnaire on the official website for the film, to which I got six responses. (Details of the questionnaire and the answers given can be found in the appendix to this essay).

From these results, it can be said that the film's alternative nature can draw an audience in. One person said,

"I was flipping channels at about 3am, and suddenly I heard this crazy music and sped-up pictures. It was The Grid, and I was glued to the film till it ended. I later found out its name, and snapped up the VHS."

Male, 20, UK

This person mentions the "crazy music" here. Another person (Male, 41, USA) said that he was fascinated by the music in "The Grid", and that it was one of the things that led him to watch the film in the first place. A third person (Male, 53, Portugal) states that he had the soundtrack to the film before he saw it. Also, another person (Male, 39, USA) said that "the intermix of music and image" was the aspect of the film that most stuck in his mind.

It can therefore be stated that the music is generally considered to stand out in the film, to the point that it can draw people into watching the film. As has been stated earlier, music is a key component in generating meaning from the film, and so when an audience is drawn to the film by the music (which, don't forget, is the aspect of the film that controls the "narrative"), it prepares them to receive it differently to a mainstream film.

The music is not the only alternative aspect that stuck out in people's minds. One person said that the aspect of the film that most stuck out in his mind was,

"The time-lapsed photography has certainly stayed with me in the form of those endless shots of cars at night whizzing by, seemingly out of control."

Male, 21, UK

The main part of the film where we see cars filmed using time-lapsed photography is "The Grid". Male, 20, UK says that "The Grid" is a key part of the film that stuck in his mind, and Male, 39, USA chose a small part of "The Grid" as being the key image from the film that most stuck out in his mind (specifically, the juxtaposing of the sausages in the machine with the people on the escalator). It therefore could be said that the time-lapsed photography, which is a key component of "The Grid", has helped to shape the reception of the film for these people, alongside the music and the juxtaposing of images.

To go back to Male, 39, USA's comment about the sausages in the machine juxtaposed with people on the escalator, he goes on to say,

"It sticks because people, especially Americans are becoming like so much processed lunch meat. No individuals anymore. Ugh."

Male, 39, USA

Here he is generating a meaning from the images, which has been brought about by how the film presents these images. This idea can be taken a step further in trying to see how the audience can discern a meaning for the film as a whole. When asked about what key image in the film most stuck in his mind, Male, 41, USA said,

"The final scene of the rocket exploding...I've always felt it was a telling comment on the ultimate futility of man's attempts to conquer nature. In many ways, the entire film gives me that feeling...that nature is the realm of God and that man's achievements, however impressive they may be in the short-term, are ultimately meaningless too all but man himself."

Male, 41, USA

Here, Male, 41, USA is using the image of the rocket exploding at the end of the film to comment on what he sees the film is about. Bear in mind that this was brought about by what was shown in the film. If a person were just to see a rocket exploding chances are that they may not see it as a symbol of man's futile attempts to conquer nature. But when seen in the context of this film, and, notably, in scenes that bookend the film, it generates this meaning in people's minds.

To make one final comment on the film's structure, when asked what he thought the film was about, Male, 40, USA said,

"It isn't 'about' anything. It simply observes the effects--on us and on our world--which follow on from man's choice to subdue (replace?) the natural with the technological; it explores the duality inherent in our runaway separation from the natural order, and it questions the imbalance that has resulted from that separation."

Male, 40, USA

He mentions man subduing/replacing nature with technology. It could be said that this idea was brought about by the film's structure, with the film starting off by showing us the natural world untouched by man, and then slowly introducing us to man, his effect on the world, and the world he has created for himself.

To sum up, "Koyaanisqatsi" is quite clearly an alternative film. It has been classed, by various people, as an experimental, avant-garde, poetic documentary. It is devoid of characters and narration. The music has taken over the part of the narration and helps to hold the film together. It also helps to generate meanings from the film. To also help generate meanings the film juxtaposes images to get the audience to form associations between those images. The film doesn't have a story as such, instead it has an idea, and the film is structured as best it can to get that meaning across. The film's structure is also bookended, which helps to make the image of the rocket exploding at the end sum up the film, "Koyaanisqatsi", "Life out of balance".

Copyright Sophie Green, 2001, 2002

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

THE FILM

"Koyaanisqatsi" (Godfrey Reggio) 1983



TV INTERVIEW

"Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass on Koyaanisqatsi" (FilmFour) 27th October 2001



BOOKS

Entry on "Koyaanisqatsi" in the "Radio Times Guide to Films", BBC Worldwide, 2000 (p. 783)

Bordwell, David and Thompson, Kristin, "Film Art: An Introduction" 5th Edition, McGraw-Hill, 1997

Bordwell, David and Thompson, Kristin, "Film History: An Introduction", McGraw-Hill, 1994

Monaco, James, "How To Read A Film" 3rd Edition, Oxford University Press, 2000

Plantinga, Carl R., "Rhetoric and Representation in Nonfiction Film", Cambridge University Press, 1997



WEBSITES

Official website for "Koyaanisqatsi" (http://www.koyaanisqatsi.org/), all accessed 17th November 2001 -

Summary of the film

Discussion board for the film (questionnaire was posted here)

Joseph Gelmis, "A meditation on the high-tech life" (review of the film as published in Newsday, September 25, 1983)

Alan Brien, "Koyaanisqatsi" (review of the film as published in New Statesman [UK], September 2, 1983)

Internet Movie DataBase (http://us.imdb.com/), accessed 17th November 2001 -

Andrew M. Somers, "Plot Summary for Koyaanisqatsi"



APPENDIX

To help me write about the reception of "Koyaanisqatsi", around October/November 2001 I placed a questionnaire on the discussion board on the official website for the film. The first part of the questionnaire is to establish how the person came to the film and their attitude towards it (as it was on the official website for the film I expected the attitude to be positive). The second part deals directly with people's reception of the film.

At the time of writing the essay I had received six replies to the questionnaire, four on the discussion board itself, and a further two via E-mail. [N.B. The 5th contributor was a fellow student on the course.]

Here is the questionnaire, complete with the answers exactly as they were given, excepts for the first question to protect the anonymity of contributers (as two of the participants decided to E-mail me their responses, as opposed to posting them in the public domain, I have taken this step to protect their anonymity):



What is your name, age, gender and nationality?

  1. Male, 20, UK
  2. Male, 39, USA
  3. Male, 53, Portugal
  4. Male, 40, USA
  5. Male, 21, UK
  6. Male, 41, USA

When and where did you first see "Koyaanisqatsi"?

  1. I was flipping channels at about 3am, and suddenly I heard this crazy music and sped- up pictures. It was The Grid, and I was glued to the film till it ended. I later found out its name, and snapped up the VHS.
  2. During it's first release (1982?) at the Little Art Theatre in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
  3. In Lisbon, 1988
  4. At home, on rental video
  5. About a month ago on my Film and Telvision course which I believe may be similar to yours!
  6. In the early 1980's (around '82 or '83) in New Jersey.

What led to you watching the film? (e.g. chose to watch it, friends got you to watch it, course film, etc.)

  1. (No answer given)
  2. Had heard good things about it, so I had to see it.
  3. I've read a lot about the film and wanted very much to have it shown to the Portuguese public (and to see it myself..), so I invited Mr. Reggio to como over to Lisbon to present both his film here. It was great!
  4. Several things led me to rent the film:
    ---Intrigued by the music of the soundtrackk;
    ---had heard about the film from friends; ---had seen "Baraka", a similar film from tthe same cinematographer, and liked it.
  5. As I say, it was a course film
  6. I simply chose to watch it after hearing about it. Also I had heard some of the music (The Grid) and was fascinated by it.

How many times have you seen the film?

  1. About five times. I admit I've watched The Grid section a lot more, as that's my fave section, and is a great way to pass half an hour.
  2. At least 30+ Usually watch it 2-3 times a year.
  3. Twice
  4. Five or six times.
  5. I've seen it once more since I was required to
  6. About 5 or 6 times.

What mark out of 5 would you give the film?

  1. 5
  2. A BIG FIVE
  3. 4.5
  4. 5, without reservation or qualification.
  5. 4
  6. 5

Have you bought the soundtrack to the film?

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes, the original LP back in the 80's and the new CD from 1998.
  3. I had it before I "finaly" saw it.
  4. I own both the soundtrack CD and the recent CD with all of the film's music.
  5. No. I couldn't appreciate that type of music without the images to go with it
  6. Yes.

Do you own a copy of the film?

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes, on laserdisc.
  3. No
  4. Yes, I own the DVD premium obtained from the Koy website.
  5. Not as such but I have a friend who I'm sure is always willing to lend it to me
  6. I did but it eas somehow lost during a move! I still regret that!

Have you also seen "Powaqqatsi"?
  1. Yes.
  2. No.
  3. Yes
  4. Yes.
  5. Not yet but I plan to
  6. Yes. It was also quite a wonderful experience.

What aspect of "Koyaanisqatsi" most stuck in your mind? (e.g. the music, the time-lapsed photography, lack of dialogue, etc.)

  1. The way it lets you make up your own mind what the 'story' is. You take from it whatever you want.
  2. The intermix of music and image. The film has made me a Philip Glass fan, much to the consternation of my wife!
  3. The courage to do that film, and the film itself as a Piece of Art of course
  4. The seamless unification of image, idea, and music; its ability to speak volumes without words.
  5. The time-lapsed photography has certainly stayed with me in the form of those endless shots of cars at night whizzing by, seemingly out of control.
  6. The combination of music and images both.

Was there any key image from the film that stuck in your mind, and if so, what was it, and why did it stick in your mind?

  1. The whole TV section in The Grid pretty much blows my mind every time.. a more profound I can always remember tho is probably the depressed-looking city tours guy.
  2. The juxtaposition of hot dogs coming out of the machine with people on the escalators. It sticks because people, especially Americans are becoming like so much processed lunch meat. No individuals anymore. Ugh.
  3. Can't choose one (honest)
  4. No single image is key--it is the interplay of all elements that produces a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
  5. It has to be the image of the rocket blowing up at the end
  6. The final scene of the rocket exploding...I've always felt it was a telling comment on the ultimate futility of man's attempts to conquer nature. In many ways, the entire film gives me that feeling...that nature is the realm of God and that man's achievements, however impressive they may be in the short-term, are ultimately meaningless too all but man himself.

After seeing the film for the first time, what were your initial impressions of it?

  1. Wow, that's one weird film, I have to see it again!
  2. I was completely flabbergasted--I don't think I breathed for the entire 87 minutes.
  3. this is Cinema
  4. I was impressed at its virtuosity and scope, and touched by its profundity.
  5. Though I appreciated it I was restless for the most part but that final image really hammered the impact home for me and the previous hour and a half felt very much like time well spent. I all made sense then and as I reflected on the film over the next few days the final image became more and more devestating in my mind
  6. As a life-changing experience. It allowed me to see things from a perspective I'd never imagined before, which is, I think, the purpose of all art...to expand our perspectives. I feel a better, more well-rounded person for having seen the film.

What did you do immediately after seeing the film for the first time?

  1. (No answer given)
  2. Tried to see if it was available on home video and ran out and got the soundtrack. And told everyone in film school just how amazing it was.
  3. Stand up, aproach Godfrey Reggio, embace him and thank him for the film
  4. Reflected, rewound, re-watched.
  5. I walked back to my halls of residence with two friends, who also both liked the film, in a state of shock!
  6. Sat in silence for a long while, still trying to absorb it all!

In your opinion, what would you say the film is about?

  1. As I said, you take out of it whatever you want to put into it. No story is forced upon you. My opinion of what it's about changes every time I see it.. currently I'm pretty neutral about it.
  2. It is basically mankind's wholesale destruction of the planet Earth and in conjunction the human race.
  3. I feel the film is about US, mankind [I've E-mailed this person about this answer to clarify that he is emphasising the word "us", and not abbreviating "United States".]
  4. It isn't 'about' anything. It simply observes the effects--on us and on our world--which follow on from man's choice to subdue (replace?) the natural with the technological; it explores the duality inherent in our runaway separation from the natural order, and it questions the imbalance that has resulted from that separation.
  5. Sausage production in the United States. Man's arrogance towards nature and his blind assurance that all he is creating is giving us a better world. To see the point made even better, watch Werner Herzog's "Aguirre: The Wrath of God".
  6. As mentioned above, the ultimate futility of man's attempts to conquer nature.

Finally, do you have any other comments about the film that you'd like to make?

  1. (No answer given)
  2. Looking forward to Reggio's third film!
  3. I would love to be allowed the previlege to see the filme again seating next to Gidfrey Reggio and Philip Glass.
  4. For me, this is the best film of the 20th century. Though some of its images now date the film, its import remains timely--perhaps now more than ever.
  5. I'm glad a film of this sort has aquired such a devoted following. It is a documentary of sorts and I believe documentary is a purer form of cinema that bourgeoise "Art" entertainment as Dziga Vertov would say. I think he would have liked it!
  6. There are certain works of art that call out to be seen by all, as the power of the work has the potential to create an inner change in all who experience it. This film os one of those works. It is not merely an entertainment, a pleasant hour or two away from the everyday world...it transcends that and becomes another creature entirely...a spiritually awakening experience that lifts you to a new place, a place where you can pull back the veil of normal "life" and see the world anew. I hope that this film will one day be re-released so that others may be as enlightened as I have been. To those who are involved in the legal meanderings that are keeping this remarkable work of light hidden under a basket, I plead that you remember that art belongs to us all, and not just to your pocketbooks. Do the right thing and resolve the issues at hand and shine the light of Koyaanisqatsi upon the world once again!

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