British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi

Synopsis
Two of the three films from the Qatsi trilogy. They are cinematic essays on the impact of technological progress on the earth and its peoples, set to scores by Philip Glass. The photographic effects, cinematography, and musical scores combine to create two extraordinary films that have influenced many pop promos and television commercials.
Series
Qatsi Trilogy
Language
English
Country
United States
Year of release
2014
Year of production
1982 1988
Documentation
Further details on the trilogy are available at http://www.koyaanisqatsi.org/films/film.php
Subjects
Development studies; Environmental science; Media studies; Music
Keywords
cultural influences; developing countries; environment; film music; natural resources; Technology; built environment

Distribution Formats

Type
DVD
Format
Region 2 PAL, Blu-Ray DVD
Price
£29.99 (inclusive)
Availability
Sale
Duration/Size
179 minutes
Year
2014

Sections

Title
Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of balance
Synopsis
Koyaanisqatsi contrasts the tranquil beauty of nature with the frenzied hum of contemporary urban society. A visual concert of images set to music by 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 and slow motion photography to make comparisons between different types of physical motion. In one of the first examples, speeded up images of moving cloud formations are intercut with a montage of ocean waves (slowed down) in such a way as to illustrate the similarities of movement between these natural forces. This technique of comparison exists throughout the film. The film progresses from purely natural environments to nature as affected by man, and finally to a purely 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.
Duration
87 mins

Title
Powaqqatsi: Life in transformation
Synopsis
The title POWAQQATSI comes from the Hopi Indian words ‘Powaqa’, which refers to a negative sorcerer who lives at the expense of others, and ‘Qatsi’ meaning life. The film’s overall focus is on natives of the Third World -- the emerging, land-based cultures of Asia, India, Africa, the Middle East and South America -- and how they express themselves through work and traditions. The film is a celebration of the human-scale endeavour the craftsmanship, spiritual worship, labour and creativity that defines a particular culture.

POWAQQATSI is also about contrasting ways of life, and in part how the lure of mechanisation and technology and the growth of mega-cities are having a negative effect on small-scale cultures.

The is a record of diversity and transformation, of cultures dying and prospering, of industry for its own sake and the fruits of individual labour presented as an integrated human symphony, accompanied by Philip Glass’ score performed with native, classical and electronic instruments.
Duration
99 mins

Distributor

Name

Arrow Film Distributors Ltd

Web
http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk External site opens in new window
Phone
01923 858306
Fax
01923 859673
Address
18 Watford Road
Radlett
Herts
WD7 8LE
Notes
contact: Neil Agran

Online Retailer

Name

Moviemail

Web
https://www.simplyhe.com/3000-moviemail External site opens in new window
Phone
0844 848 2000
Address
Simply Home Entertainment
PO Box 7741
Ringwood
BH24 9FA
UK
Notes
As of December 2016 the Moviemail web presence is incorporated within the Simply Media website

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