Tuesday, 19 August 2008



This is an odd film and some might wonder whether it’s a bit pointless. It has no dialogue or storyline at all. It is simply a series of images accompanied by music whose meaning the producers insist on leaving open to interpretation. But I find it very powerful, haunting and absorbing. When I watch Koyaanisqatsi I get the distinct feeling that there's a very important message in it that it's telling me, but I can't put it into words. A clue to its theme is in the title: Koyaanisqatsi means "life out of balance" in the Hopi Red Indian language. Many Native American philosophers believe that the White Man is suffering from a deprivation or sickness. This is caused by our straying away from the spiritual world and being fixated on materialism, consumerism and the physical world. This is apparent in the words of Chief Seattle, whom I’ve written about before: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2007/11/chief-seattles-letter.html .
My favourite bit is the sequence that just shows the people standing still looking at the camera: the lady at the railway station, the fighter pilot, the Las Vegas casino women. It is at this part I get the strongest feeling of significance. Their expressions are as subtly impressive as the Mona Lisa’s; I bet the director spent ages making them pull just the right faces!

There are some much more recent sequels by the same production team: Powaaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi. I'll have to watch those when I have time. I’ll also buy the full-quality DVD’s rather than the diminished online versions.

There used to be a Channel 4 show many years ago called Art of Landscape that was very like Koyaanisqatsi. Does anyone remember it?

Look at this Madonna video: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=QFzeDExYPbw . It's a great song and video and its high-speed time-lapse shots were definitely inspired by Koyaanisqatsi.

Here is a documentary about the film including interviews with the production team: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6035911215317334768&hl=en

(I’ve added two new HPANWO Voice articles today so don’t forget to scroll down to the other one below!)

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