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rating: (out of 4 stars)

United States; 1982
Directed by Godfrey Reggio; produced by Godfrey Reggio; written by Ron Fricke, Michael Hoenig, Godfrey Reggio, Alton Walpole

'Koyaanisqatsi' translates "life out of balance" and that is exactly what it wants to show us. In the first half of the film director Godfrey Reggio and cinematographer Ron Fricke show us beautiful images of nature. Then human beings fill the screen, starting with a factory build by man, and the nature slowly disappears. With time lapse photography it shows what we have made of the earth, always in a hurry, not caring for the environment whatsoever.

Personally I think Reggio is right with saying this, and the title makes clear it really is his point. But there are two flaws in his film(s). The first is that his beautiful nature is one without human beings at all. Basically he is saying nature and man simply can not exist together, which I think is not his opinion. He should have shown beautiful nature with man living in it, peacefully without bringing life out of balance. For this you might want to see Ron Fricke's 'Baraka' or even his 'Chronos'.

The second flaw is more obvious. Not only the images of nature are gorgeous, the images, especially when using time lapse photography, of the creations of mankind look equally wonderful. When we see a New York street filled with cars, or a city full of little lights, we are simply amazed. It is just too beautiful to want to find Reggio's point. In fact, the only thing I did think was how amazing mankind really is. Of course we're doing wrong things with the planet we live on, but the fact that we are capable of doing so is quite impressive.

This last point works in favor of the movie as a watching experience. Every single image is nice to look at and on top of it Philip Glass has composed a score that is so perfect it is hard to think of any other music with those images. Together they are seen and heard in perfect harmony. As an experience 'Koyaanisqatsi' is great and will be enough to recommend this film. If you want more than just images and sound this might not be your film.


  Review by Reinier Verhoef