Koyaanisqatsi - friday 2010-02-19 0259 last modified 2010-02-19 1358
Categories: Film
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From Godfrey Reggio's eponymous film, koyaanisqatsi meaning #5 as translated approximately from Hopi: a state of life that calls for another way of living.

I've put off watching the Qatsi trilogy for a bit since "experience film" tends to require undivided attention for a longer period of time with no promise of engagement, understanding, or worthwhile interpretation. Into Great Silence, a three hour documentary on an order of silent monks, is itself almost entirely silent, inviting the viewer for a brief moment into the lives of a strict monastic order whose daily experience from the time they take their vows dwarfs the comparatively short and yet decidedly uncomfortable time an audience would sit through it. I sort of watched it. At home. I cheated. I had two monitors at the time. The other one wasn't quiescent.

Koyaanisqatsi is a bit harder to describe. If you're not interested in monasticism at all, then Silence can be fairly safely written off (but don't write it off). Most people don't speak Hopi, and taking the more broadly used definition of "life out of balance" only conveys some small sense of what the actual experience is like. Thus you could read through a fairly detailed, scene by scene description of the film on wiki and still be unprepared to be moved by the film.

There is no plot, there are no characters. What narrative it offers must be inferred from observing and from the tone of the soundtrack, composed by Philip Glass. One of the final scenes, where a flaming piece of a disastrous explosion in space tumbles back to the ground, is utterly absorbing. The intention becomes clear in each segment, and I wish the film was more often described with that fifth meaning. Modern day life is out of balance - and that is a desperate plea for something about it to change. For a nearly thirty-year old film, Koyaanisqatsi is still wholly relevant. It may still be a bit before I get to the next two. There were nineteen years between the first and last, though; I'll try not to rush it.

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