Koyaanisqatsi (1983)

Life out of balance

Original Title : Koyaanisqatsi
Director : Godfrey Reggio
Writer : Ron Fricke
Michael Hoenig
Godfrey Reggio
Alton Walpole
Genre : Documentary
Country : USA
Language : English
Producer : Francis Ford Coppola , Mel Lawrence , Roger McNew , T. Michael Powers , Godfrey Reggio , Lawrence Taub , Alton Walpole
Music : Philip Glass
Michael Hoenig
Photography : Ron Fricke
IMDB ID : 0085809
Official site :
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poster for "Koyaanisqatsi" by Godfrey Reggio (1983)
Koyaanisqatsi (1983) - Godfrey Reggio


Koyaanisqatsi is a documentary (of sorts). It is also a visual concert of images set to the haunting music of 'Phillip Glass' . While there is no plot in the traditional sense, there is a definate scenario. The film opens on ancient native American cave drawings, while the soundtrack chants "Koyaanisqatsi" which is a Hopi indian term for "life out of balance". The film uses extensive time lapse photography (which speeds images up) and slow motion photography to make comparisons between different types of physical motion. In one of the first examples, we see cloud formations moving (sped up) intercut with a montage of ocean waves (slowed down) and in such a way we are able to see the similarities of movement between these natural forces. This technique of comparison exists throughout the film, and through it we learn more about the world around us. The film progresses from purely natural environments to nature as affected by man, and finally to man's own manmade environment, devoid of nature yet still following the patterns of natural flow as depicted in the beginning of the film, yet in chaos and disarray. Through this the film conveys its key message, which is Koyaanisqatsi: life out of balance, crazy life, life in turmoil, life disintegrating, a state of life that calls for another way of living.


Just watch it A welcome assault on the senses, 'Koyaanisqatsi' is not for the impatient or nervous.You have to give it time because it is slightly dull in the very beginning, as the music and landscapes are fairly ordinary.Once it gets going, its really fascinating.Some gorgeous images, none generated by a computer I might add, and a soundtrack to match the intensity makes this a unique movie experience.I saw it on the big screen when it was first released, and it was MUCH better than on my not-that-big television. One of the things I also like about this movie is the fact that since there is no dialogue, it can be shown in any country in the world unchanged.We would all see it the exact same way. I like the idea of that very much.
poster for "Koyaanisqatsi"
333 x 475
Koyaanisqatsi (1983) - Godfrey Reggio