The Qatsi Trilogy [Criterion Collection] [3 Discs] [Blu-ray]

Beginning in the early 1980s, avant-garde director Godfrey Reggio launched an unusual, critically-acclaimed documentary series known as the Qatsi trilogy. The first installment, Koyaanisqatsi (1983), has a title that means "life in turmoil" in Hopi; accordingly, the movie contrasts images of the harmony present in nature with the violent disruption that takes place when civilization rears its head. Its follow-up, the 1988 Powaqaatsi, uses a similar framework and approach that shows how Third World cultures continue to be exploited by more modernized societies. The third and final installment, 2002's Naqoyqatsi, examines the complex impact of technology on civilizaton, with dozens of preexisting images that Reggio digitally and optically alters, essentially implying that technology has become part and parcel of early 21st century culture in lieu of disrupting it. All three films appear in this box set from the Criterion Collection.
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Overview

Special Features

  • New, restored digital transfers of all three films, approved by director Godfrey Reggio, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD master audio soundtracks
  • Essence of life, an interview program with Reggio and composer Philip Glass on Koyaanisqatsi
  • New interview with cinematographer Ron Fricke about Koyaanisqatsi
  • Television spots and a new interview with Reggio relating to his 1970s multimedia privacy campaign in New Mexico
  • Early forty-minute demo version of Koyaanisqatsi with a partial scratch soundtrack featuring poet Allen Ginsberg, along with a new introduction by Reggio
  • New interview with Reggio about Koyaanisqatsi's original visual concept, with behind-the-scenes footage
  • Impact of progress, an interview program with Reggio and Glass on their collaboration
  • Inspiration and ideas, a new interview with Reggio about his greatest influences and teachers
  • Public television interview with Reggio from 1989 about the trilogy
  • Anima Mundi (1992), Reggio's twenty-eight-minute montage of footage of over seventy animal species, scored by Glass
  • New video afteward by Reggio on the trilogy
  • The making of "Naqoyqatsi," a brief documentary featuring interviews with the production crew
  • Panel discussion on Naqoyqatsi from 2003, with Reggio, Glass, editor Jon Kane, and music critic John Rockwell
  • Interview with Glass and cellist Yo-Yo Ma
  • Trailers
  • PLUS: a booklet featuring essays by film scholar Scott MacDonald, Rockwell, and author and environmentalist Bill McKibben

Synopsis

Powaqqatsi
Powaqqatsi was the second of the feature-length "non narrative" films produced, directed and co-scripted by Godfrey Reggio. As in his earlier Koyaanisqatsi, Reggio utilizes a collage of sounds and gimmicked-up images to make a comment on modern life. And as in the earlier film, Reggio's onslaught of imagery is backed up by the music of Philip Glass. This time, Reggio concentrates on Third World cultures, and the way those cultures are perceived and sometimes exploited by the power merchants of the world. Powaqqatsi was supposed to be the second in a trilogy, but wasn't as eagerly embraced by viewers and critics as its popular predecessor. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Koyaanisqatsi
An art-house circuit sensation, this feature-length documentary is visually arresting and possesses a clear, pro-environmental political agenda. Without a story, dialogue, or characters, Koyaanisqatsi (1983) (the film's title is a Hopi word roughly translated into English as "life out of balance") is composed of nature imagery, manipulated in slow motion, double exposure or time lapse, juxtaposed with footage of humans' devastating environmental impact on the planet. Starting with an ancient rock wall painting, the film moves through sequences depicting clouds, waves, and other natural features, then into man-made landscapes such as buildings, earth-altering construction machinery, and cars. The message of director Godfrey Reggio is clear: humans are destroying the planet, and all of human progress is pointlessly foolish. Also notable for its intense, atmospheric score by new age composer Philip Glass, Koyaanisqatsi (1983) was a labor of love for Reggio, who spent several years filming it. The film was followed by sequels, Powaqqatsi (1988), Anima Mundi (1991) and Naqoyqatsi (1999). ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

Naqoyqatsi
Filmmaker, philosopher and activist Godfrey Reggio completes the film trilogy he began with Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi in this visually striking examination of the impact of technology upon our culture. Naqoyqatsi is a word from the Hopi language which roughly translates as "war as a way of life" or "a life of killing each other," and in this film Reggio uses a intense barrage of images - most of which have been drawn from existing film footage and then altered using a variety of optical and digital techniques - to express his belief that technology is no longer at war with nature. Instead, we have allowed technology to become the "nature" in which we live, and as it stretches our physical and emotional environment in new and troubling directions, we have created for ourselves a world of greater chaos, violence, and confusion. As with his previous features in this trilogy, Naqoyqatsi features an original score by Philip Glass, featuring cello solos by Yo-Yo Ma; director Steven Soderbergh, a noted admirer of Reggio's first two films, served as executive producer. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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