Godfrey Reggio: Koyaanisqatsi – Life Out of Balance 1983

Godfrey Reggio: Koyaanisqatsi - Life Out of Balance 1983

Reggio assembles a documentary-style chronological montage reflecting the impact of industrialisation and population-growth on our planet. It’s like looking at the Earth through the elapsed time vision of an alien watcher, at once beautiful and shocking, like looking into an ant colony as it goes about its business. Philip Glass has produced the mesmeric, iterative score. Ron Fricke is the cinematographer. (ten years later, Fricke went on to produce Baraka (1992). Reggio uses elapsed time, stop motion, slow motion, and other techniques to tell this story. It has a script comprising just one word. It is at once a prayer, a mantra, a meditation and a plea. It is a cool and stylish appraisal of where we are at. It reminded me of the ethos of the Whole Earth Catalog – ‘We are as Gods. We might as well get good at it.’. And it reminded me of Buckminster Fuller’s An Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth.

Commenting on the almost script-less approach to Koyaanisqatsi, Reggio said:

“it’s not for lack of love of the language that these films have no words. It’s because, from my point of view, our language is in a state of vast humiliation. It no longer describes the world in which we live”