ko.yaa.nis.qatsi, a Hopi noun that means, "a crazy life," "life in turmoil or disintegrating," "life out of balance," or "a state of life that calls for another way of living," and the movie of that name opens on breath-taking natural vistas of vast canyons and limitless deserts, in a world without people. Then the movie shows smokestacks, factories, and massive highways. All photography and music, without dialogue or captions, it has been hailed as a great, sad vision, and suggests that western civilization is spoiling a flawless natural world, creating "a crazy life." This beautiful movie's scenes and original track by award-winning composer Phil Glass contrasts the glory of nature with a human-made mess.
Deapite having a Hopi word for the title, no Hopis appear on screen, and the contrast set up for us has less to do with a return to Native American life than with how ugly expressways and factories are, and that the only beautiful world might be one without any people. The first scene of smokestacks is a horror, but, as are those of the expressways, has another side: It's a fascinating choreography of people living and moving almost impossibly fast. If the people in all those cars have crazy lives, it might be as much due to social factors - unemployment, crime, racism, drugs, pollution, and illiteracy - and thus too complex to be solved siimply by a return to nature. Certainly, the suggestion that the world must be devoid of human beings to be beautiful or livable is something of a self-defeating message. But as a visual and listening experience, "Koyaanisqatsi" is very rewarding.
All landscape and shots of anonymous people
Philip Glass, Koyaanisqatsi, movie without words
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