(re)discovering koyaanisqatsi

March 30, 2010

Reggio & Fricke ‘Koyaanisqatsi – Life out of Balance’, film stills, 1982.

Someone at work asked me if I had heard anything by Philip Glass.

No.

Really?! …Are you sure?

No…

Listen to Koyaanisqatsi.

… Kyoanisaskstski…

-Koyaanisqatsi. Listen to it.

Ok.

And I did; quickly realising that it was a film score, decided to listen to it and watch the film at the same time. A couple of decades behind, I finally witnessed what could be one of the most cinematic, poignant and crucial films of our time. Koyaanisqatsi means ‘unbalanced life‘, the result of which is so obvious now. The genius of Koyaanisqatsi is that by purely showing modern western civilisation as it is, without any need for anything else – dialogue, actors, explanations – it demonstrates so powerfully our reliance on and obsession with technology together with our often destructive involvement with nature. Seeing the images unfolding from the viewpoint of the watcher, it almost begins to feel alien. We have provided the story line, the script, and it’s a dizzying and chaotic one.

“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.”

Hopi Prophecy, Koyaanisqatsi, 1982

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