The Qatsi trilogy

Named using words from the Hopi Indian language that describes life and our relationship with nature, these films attempt to create a new visual vocabulary using only images and music to show us life on earth from its primordial beginnings and how humans have transformed the earth and ourselves into something unrecognizable and unnatural.

Filmed in locations around the world, this brilliant series gives us a new perspective on the human condition in purely visual and musical sensations. Using a variety of photographic techniques such as time-lapse, slow motion, fast motion, dissolves and with no story or narration, the awe-inspiring images take on a profound and heightened sense of wonder, while leaving the audience to make their own interpretations. 

Focusing on our destructive impact on the planet they could easily be seen as a promotion for Greenpeace.  If 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) was an optimistic vision of the future and man’s achievements, then The Qatsi Trilogy is its pessimistic counterpart that shows the difficult struggles and sacrifices it took to get there.

Part one, Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance (1982) takes us to locations all around the US and shows us the heavy toll that modern technology is having on humans and the earth.

Part two, Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation (1988) focuses on third world locations around the world and shows how traditional ways of life are rapidly being transformed and eliminated by the ever growing industrial machine.

Part three, Naqoyqatsi: Life as War (2002) takes the message to a whole new level as it focuses on the digital age and shows how images and our minds are being digitally manipulated by media advertising.

Also see Anima Mundi (1992), a short Qatsi style companion piece by the makers of The Qatsi Trilogy focusing on the animal kingdom.

These poetic meditations on life have become cult classics within the documentary genre and are made by only a hand full of very dedicated, independent film makers. People you have probably never heard of but sound vaguely familiar, people who have, with their visions, influenced many mainstream filmmakers and television commercials. These people want to make you think about what you’re watching using unique methods of image editing and offer something new to discover with every viewing. These timeless films are even more relevant now than ever and have lost none of their power. 

People who enjoy these kaleidoscopic movies rarely see them only once. These mesmerizing films have a hypnotic effect on the viewer and are almost a religious experience with people who see them over and over again. There are people who have reportedly watched these films 50 or 60 times if not in the hundreds. I consider them must viewing at least once a year.

Directed and produced by Godfrey Reggio, music composed by Philip Glass, photographed by Ron Fricke, and edited by Alton Walpole, these are just some of the people involved in the production of these amazing films. Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson were also the creators of the stunningly gorgeous Qatsi style documentary Baraka (1993) and its sequel Samsara (2011) which will be release in cinemas August 24, 2012. 
If you love beautiful cinematography and exotic locations edited together in thought provoking ways using a broad array of eclectic, avant-garde music by a great modern composer, you will love this non-verbal, visual form of cinema, where sound and image is everything. Don’t miss the extraordinary experience of these inspiring films.



Geek Girl said...

Wow... these sound great! I like the thought provoking films. Thanks for letting us know about these. :)

Susan Cooper said...

These are movies I know I would enjoy. Tha is for the heads up and review. :), Susan Cooper from BHB

subhorup dasgupta said...

i cannot thank you enough, JP, for sharing about these films. i had never heard of them, and after reading your post, headed across to find them, and they are all available of youtube in great quality. will be looking out for them on DVD too. watched the 2002 one on life as war, and less than 15 minutes into the film, felt compelled to come and share my gratitude to your posting this. what an amazing body of work.

JP said...

Thanks Subhorup, I'm glad you are enjoying these great films. I can't wait for them to be available on Blu-ray. Also look for the films Baraka (1993)and Samsara (2011).