Monday, December 22, 2014

Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

IMDb plot summary: A movie with no conventional plot: merely a collection of expertly photographed scenes. Subject matter has a highly environmental theme.
Directed by Godfrey Reggio.

It's... hard to know how to review this exactly. There are a lot of people I know who LOVE this, and although I see where they're coming from, it didn't have nearly that effect on me. Maybe my attention span is too short or too narrative-focused, but I found myself zoning out a lot. It would definitely be interesting to see this in a more immersive format, in a theater or with a really good sound system with nothing else trying to grab my focus. As it was, it was too easy for my brain to convert this into background noise.

That's not to say there weren't moments that really stood out. I for some reason really got into the segment showing big city traffic faster than real life. That was almost hypnotic to watch, as drivers zoomed in and out of lanes and pedestrians appeared to almost jump out in front of them. I also really enjoyed the score, particular the one with the men chanting "Koyaanisqatsi" -- there was a deep, profound sadness in just that one word. I couldn't remember what "koyaanisqatsi" meant, though I know I had someone tell me once, so when the word and the definition appeared on the screen at the end, I had another moment of really connecting to the material. Somehow, after that hour and a half of images, seeing the words "a life out of balance" on the screen made me very sad and melancholy. So, interestingly, the strongest response I had to this movie involved actual words, either sung or written. It's quite likely that the scarcity of language made the few occurrences of it much more powerful to me.

That being said, I don't know that I'd watch it again -- certainly not in the same video/audio setup. There are some very compelling moments, but there are a lot that just... aren't, and I'm not sure they make up for the few that work.

3 stars.

Flickchart: #1035 out of 2282, below Cypher and above Monster.

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