Film: Koyaanisqatsi

Netflix DVD, on YouTube in 9 parts, on reserve at Ayala Library

This is a pro-postmodernism film.  “The film is an apocalyptic vision of the collision of two different worlds — urban life and technology versus the environment. The musical score was composed by Philip Glass.
“KOYAANISQATSI attempts to reveal the beauty of the beast! We usually perceive our world, our way of living, as beautiful because there is nothing else to perceive. If one lives in this world, the globalized world of high technology, all one can see is one layer of commodity piled upon another. In our world the “original” is the proliferation of the standardized. Copies are copies of copies. There seems to be no ability to see beyond, to see that we have encased ourselves in an artificial environment that has remarkably replaced the original, nature itself. We do not live with nature any longer; we live above it, off of it as it were. Nature has become the resource to keep this artificial or new nature alive.”  … in the sense of art, the meaning of the film is “whatever you with to make of it.”
At the end of your documentary review, connecting the film to course content, please address these questions.

1.  The creator of this film says it is meant to offer an experience rather than information or a story.  What is the message of this film?

2. The twin towers the are in the film are not the World Trade Center towers that fell on 9/11/2001 20 years after the film).  Does reflecting on 9/11 add anything to the interpretation of the film?

3.  Most of the human images in the segment are of people dressed for work (for example, white collar workers on escalators) or at work (for example, blue collar workers on assembly lines). How do these images make you feel about work? How do these images make you feel about the evident economic disparities between affluent and assembly line workers?

4.  How do these images make you feel about the amount of material resources we consume by going about our “normal” activities?

5.  There has been disagreement about this film.  Some viewers (and reviewers)  of this film interpret it as denouncing the pervasiveness of industrialization, while others regard it as an “ode to technology. “Which do you agree with? Why?

6.  This film could not have been produced without the very industrialization that produced
modern technology. Can this fact be reconciled with the view that the film may be
understood to denounce technology as excessive or immoral? Are we using scientific
advances and technology in the best ways?

7.  The title of this film is Koyaanisqatsi, which according to the end credits is the
Hopi word meaning: “1. Crazy life. 2. Life in turmoil. 3. Life out of balance. 4.
Life disintegrating. 5. A state of life that calls for another way of living.” In your
opinion, which of these definitions most appropriately fits what you saw?


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