(koy-yan-iss-katsi) is the name of a movie scored by Philip Glass.
Produced & Directed by Godfrey Reggio.
It means Life
Out of Balance in Hopi. |
Music CD published by Antilles.
If you are into anything about concern for this planet, deal with this.
This is not a screwed, downer, loser film.
It is a joy to behold. Some of the most beautiful photography ever created.
It may be the
one of the greatest films ever made.
Certainly one of the most important in our lifetime.
You simply won't believe it.
It was made in 1982.
"If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster.
Translation of the Hopi Prophecies sung in the film.
Near the Day of Purification, there will be cobwebs
spun back and forth it the sky.
A container of ashes might one day be thrown
from the sky, which could burn the land
and boil the oceans."
Music: Search at www.amazon.com or www.musicblvd.com for the Oct 98 CD.
Below in response to the above:
"Just recently I had the great honor of finally locating a copy of
Reggio's masterpiece. I was so inspired and so touched by the imagery
of the movie I had to watch it a second time right off the bat. The
movie not only is a visual triumph, bringing new perspective and vantage
to images, some of which were common(the city scenes.) Yet the look made
them feel so fresh and real. Facinating pacing with the shots, amazing
photography overall. I loved Philip Glass' score so much that I
immediately went out and bought it, its one of my favorite cds now. I
don't think I can't put into words the impact this movie had on me, the
power and strength of the message, maybe because the message is better
conveyed visually than being broken up by dialogue that tries to express
a view of society that can't be put into words. Koyaanisqatsi is
undoubtedly one of the best movies I've ever seen, utterly inventive,
insightful, original, derivitive, and important." -- Gary Witter
Hi there. First of all I would like to say that Koyaanisqatsi is one of
the best movies ever made. I have seen it many many times, but
unfortunately some sick lunatic decided to stop making it. Some idiot
thought it was a good idea to never sell it and splash on the internet
that the critics hated it, making it easier to the fools in
Hollywoodland to make it more unavailable. All these people should be
shot. I want this movie to own. I think everyone should have it in
their home!!!! I do however have the outstanding soundtrack on CD. It
is the closest I get to experiencing this dream. Do you know HOW I can
find this movie on tape. I NEED IT!!!!!!!! It is wonderful to see
someone else loves it as much as I do. Please write back and let me
know if I am the only person that thinks these things!!! -firstname.lastname@example.org
This film should be viewed by all of humanity.
The beginning of time, the end of time. Beauty, purity, earth at
conception. Will we be here tomorrow? Why were we here yesterday? The
clouds show the replay of our actions. The sky cries with sorrow, rages
in fury, throws a tantrum like a child, demands our complete attention,
begs for us to stop the abuse, lashes out in pain, and shouts at us to
help save the very life it hangs above. The waters rage in disgust,
overflow with sickness, disappear with neglect, and shout for help. The
land quits producing, shifts with discomfort, dries up and wrinkles,
angrily retaliates, shouts in pain, complains of poisoning, screams to
be heard. The plants hide in fear, die without hope, spread their
worry, and disappear through the hand of another.
Man ignores all the cries, pleading, shouting, hiding, dying, rebellion,
anger, rage, tantrums, complaints and illness. Man keeps taking and
taking with no conscience to give back. Man walks the earth as the most
intelligent creature, so it is said. In a realistic look man is really
the most unintelligent of creatures. The mind is there but they don't
use it. The ability to learn from their mistakes is there but that too
I couldn't describe what I felt the first time I watched Koyaanisqatsi.
I discovered it by chance. My uncle had recorded it from the French
channel Arte and I decided to watch it. Image after image I was sinking
deeper in my couch, isolating myself from the rest of the entire world.
It seemed that all the world was in the film, but I was somewhwere out
of it. I was flying over it, scuba-diving into it, crawling under it,...
The images are somewhat different, but they wouln't make the same effect
withou the music. I couldn't stop watching the last 10 minutes time and
again. Watching that piece of space crap falling into eternity.
I had to search for the CD, but I found it eventually. Every time I hear
that soundtrack my mind and body fly away from everything on Earth. My
problems are forgotten, my worries blurred away. It's a passageway to
I simply love Koyaanisqatsi. I couldn't live without it.
In these years I haven't found anybody who had even
heard about the film. I'd like to talk with somebody who has similar
feelings about the movie and Phillip Glass' music.
Oscar Gadea email@example.com
It has been about 6 months since I left my comments on your page here.
This gave me plenty of time to think about it. I recently learned of a
movie entitled "Trinity And Beyond" which was an Oscar award winner in
1997. This documentary focuses on the history of the atom bomb, and
contains many visually stunning images of the detonations of them. Of
course, the images have all been digitally enhanced for effect. I did
view the movie when it aired on The Learning Channel (TLC) this past
summer, and I have to say I was disappointed. Being a strict animal
lover, I was horrified to watch some of the bomb testing the heartless
U.S. Government did on many farm animals to prove how powerful their
weapons were to the viewer. I am sure you are wondering what this has
to do with this wonderful web page of Koyaanisqatsi. I guess why I
mention "Trinity" is because it is hard to fathom why a movie with such
horrible destruction can be labeled as "beautiful" and "stunning" and a
truly artful, peaceful movie such as "Koyaanisqatsi" goes on to be
ignored. I wonder sometimes if it is because it was made at the wrong
time, around the same time as "E.T." and "Gahndi" and was forgotten due
to the extreme hype of these blockbusters. Whatever the cause for
ignorance of the movie industry, I feel that this action was a grave
mistake. With the coming generation of young adults who are drawn to
such images now, and also the advancement of audio and video technology,
hopefully someone will think of a way to save this wonderful piece of
movie history. What a fantastic dream it would be to see this film on
DVD or letterbox video. I would especially like to see it released to
movie theaters once again, just so the new generation may view it.
Maybe one day the intensely commercial movie industry will stop thinking
they know what every person in the world wants to see and begins
acknowledges this wonderful film for what it is. Meanwhile all I can do
is scratch my head standing at the store looking at rows and rows of
mass-produced brainless action films that continue to sell like
It is fascinating to find how fascinating is to watch our own
destruction. Koyaanisqatsi - the first documentary film that actually made me cry.
P.S.: I don't know if this of any interest to any of you, but on
my visit to England good videotape-stores had Koyaanisqatsi in stock;
it wasn't cheap, though - about 16 or 18 pounds or so.
First off, let me say that it took me about half an hour searching Philip
Glass links to find out how to spell out this film's name. (I forgot the
second a). I thoroughly enjoyed the film, and have seen it twice. Some
teacher recommended it to me, and it took me a while before I got around to
seeing it, but when I finally did, it was one of those spellbinding
experiences. I remember just staring into the screen of my television. I do
not remember blinking. It was mesmorizing. This is all completely driven by
the score, which I am trying to buy, but most stores don't find zither music
particularly marketable. I will confess that I did fall asleep during it-
that it is not the fastest moving film ever made. It gets pretty hyper, but
you had to be there with it to be carried by that hyperactivity. For everyone
who can do this, all the more power to you. I recently read a Roger Ebert
review of the film, and he pointed out an interesting fact- The images of
nature do not contain man at any point. The resultant is the suggestion that
we would be better if we never existed in the first place, which can be either
interpreted as a flaw in the cinematic style, or simply a very cynical way of
looking at it. I won't pass judgement on this film. I loved it, but maybe
Mr. Ebert was right. It might make good conversation amongst the twelve
people in the world who have seen this film. -Maverick
This movie grabs people by throat and makes them immediately want to
move to Nepal and become a Buddhist monk or bores them to death within
the first ten minutes. The premise of the movie, that which is only
suggested in the opening scenes, is driven home spectacularly at the
end. The beginning flashes of Hopi Indian cave paintings represent not
the people themselves, but their concept of living in harmony or in
“balance” with nature. Interspersed with scenes of an Appolo rocket
launching, representing what we are most proud of and consider to be the
red hot cutting edge of our finest technology. It is most definitely a
question of balance, rocket propulsion or otherwise.
It is a contrast visually drawn that illustrates the two society’s
different and mutually incomprehensible approach to life. The rest of
the movie continues to accentuate and depict those differences by way of
strictly visual and audio experiences, devoid of any dialogue or
narrative. The Hopi concept with broad, swooping vistas of mountain
ranges, rivers and sky. Our concept by way of familiar yet
hypnotically repetitive scenes of our daily life… conveyor lines,
traffic jams and waiting lines.
But wait, we are now confronted with scenes of broad swooping vistas of
what, deserted housing projects? What is this, could they actually be
suggesting that an abandoned housing project be as beautiful as a
mountain range? Could the dull roar of a factory conveyor line sound
like a raging river pounding on rocks? Depends on how one looks at
things, and where one is coming from and going to… in essence one’s
perspective. The film plays tricks with camera perspective and speed to
try to make the viewer understand this, and the music underscores each
visual thought. That the two ways of life are functionally
interchangeable, livable, yet headed in drastically opposite directions
towards a separate finality.
The detailed ending scene of a rocket launch, explosion and successive
falling to earth of the failed rocket’s engine gasping out of dying
flames in a final attempt at a purpose are as darkly foreboding as the
white man’s first landing on the shores of North America. To a native
American Indian people who never understood how land could be owned,
just like the sun or an eagle’s path can’t be bought.
Hello, fellow Koyaanisqatsi lover! It is such a treat to hear of other people who love this film as much
or even more than I do! I've only seen it once ten years ago on a PBS station who happened to show it late at
night on a saturday evening. And I've been in love ever since. Personally I believe it is masterpiece of a film
and Philip Glass' greatest moments(by the way I'm also a big fan of Mr Glass because of this film). Do you
know if there is anyway we can get a petition of some kind to have this film rereleased on videotape? Lately it
seems as if every other film of some significance has been rereleased, why not this one? Anyway let me know.
For those interested, I just found a new release of the K soundtrack,
with two extra songs. You can find it in:
A relief to find your page. After seeing the film, i was certain that it had
to have a huge following on the net, and was hugely disappointed at the lack
of information on it. it ranks as my favorite film to date, and favorite
score. The soundtrack was just re-released. the original 83 version was
abridged terribly to fit on an lp, but now nearly the whole score has been
released for the first time. it got mention in billboard (surprising, no?) and
is available places on the net. just passing some information on in the guise
of incoherent thoughts
Nanasqatsi! have you heard about this new film they are designing?
I like your site, I have been an avid fan of Koyansiqatsi for years. I just purchased the new audio CD release of Koyanisqatsi! I have not listened to it all yet although it contains alot more audio than from the first CD. Apparently for the first LP release of Koyanisqatsi there was not enough room on the records for the extended mixes of the songs, this CD includes all the ones that were left out!
I will let you know how it sounds.
Anyways I just wanted to drop a note to a fellow Koyanisqatsi fan! Have a great day!
Just last night I saw the film KOYAANISQATSI on the big screen for the
first time and I
have to say it was an incredible experience. I was seated in the second
row and Philip Glass was no more than ten feet away from me with the rest
of his orchestra all around him.
The film is extremly powerful and I went there last night with my wife
and friends already knowing this. I have had a copy of the film in my
possession for years now but I barely watch it any more. my first
experience with it was late in high school. I remember thinking it was
COOL and I loved to watch all those explosions over and over.
In an article in the NY Times recently they mention how the premise of
the film kind of
works because the film doesn't preach it's message throughout, it let's
the images speak forthemselves. However the film maker does put his
message up for all to see at the end.
KOYAANISQATSI.....life out of balance. Never, in all my viewings of this
film has this silly message ever been shown to me. As I see it the film
should be renamed for the Hopi wordmeaning: LIFE IN BALANCE.
Humanity is just a product of nature and therefore everything we do is
natural. Oil spills,
waste, mundane boring lives, etc. etc. etc.....This is just nature
working itself out. Working
itself out through us. Nature takes every course it can and as bizzare a
course as humanity and all our mechanized crap is it is totally natural.
It's almost as if we didn't have a say in it. We just took the natural
course that nature designed us to.
The film only helps to reinforce all of these opinions. Every snaking
highway with cars with red or white lights reminds me of veins with tiny
red or white blood cells traveling to or from the heart. Every design
humanity makes looks entirely natural. We co-exist with nature. Were
ment to exploit her.
It is true that we could take a ton of things we (humanity) do in a much
more responsible direction, but I think we are. Just after seeing the
film again last night I couldn't help but notice how much better NYC
looks now as opposed from the 70ish period the film was shot in. When
things seem bad for ten or twenty years that seems like a long time but
sometimes it takes generations for the correct path to be taken. Often
the older generation has to die off first before any real progress is
As far a all the people smoking in the film I feel this is a very poor
thing to depict as life out of balance. Smoking is a personal choice. I
myself do not smoke and if a person chooses to do so then it is they who
are out of ballance. I just heard that the president will propose a
55cent tax on cigaretts as long as the senate doesn't remove him from
office for doing what pratically everyone else in Washington is doing.
Despite my disagreement with the films overall point I still feel it is
an extremly poignant movie which let's me interpret it as it plays out.
Kubrick does this in almost all of his films, especially 2001. His new
film Eyes Wide Shut will be out on july 16. Enjoy.
Koyaanisqatsi is the most incredible, mesmerizing piece of cinema I have
ever experienced. It is impossible to describe how different and brilliant
it is - please see it if you haven't already as you are missing out on
something really fundamental!
This is a neat little web site for this movie. I cannot remember when I
first saw 'Qatsi but I am proud to be one of the few who was able to
also see it on a "big" screen with Philip Glass and co. performing live
right in front of me - very moving and exciting. I stumbled onto this
page while looking for 'Qatsi on DVD. I find it hard to believe that
Anima Mundi, by the same Reggio/Glass duo, is out on DVD but not 'Qatsi.
I will likely pick up Anima on DVD soon as I've heard nothing but praise
for it and I have never seen it. I did however find a site that was
offering 'Qatsi on VHS for $20(1/29/1999):
(if the first link won't take you there, look for it on the next one)
I wound up lending my old copy to a woman who I don't talk to
anymore(she got that and my copy of Primo Levi's The Reawakening :o(
I tried to watch Powaaqatsi once but was disappointed and never saw the
end(couldn't help but compare it to 'Qatsi). I still have lots of great
Glass music in my collection - some days are just made for it(esp. music
in four parts, Part I). Let's all hope more filmakers are inspired by
such great films as this and make their own, I know I would like to.
I read of some people having trouble getting Koyaanisqatsi. I found it
at www.hmv.co.uk, they will send around the world. It cost me less than
UKP10 including P&P. It isn't widescreen, but is Dolby stereo. I first
saw this film with the Philip Glass ensemble live at the Barbican in
London, about 3 months ago. It is certainly the most breathtaking film I
have ever seen. I urge everybody to seek it out.
Like many who have viewed the film Koyaanisqatsi, I feel the need to write and
talk about it as soon as possible after viewing the film. My art professors
did me a favor today by showing my studio class the film, yet I am left
unsatisfied by the discussion that took place after: form, aesthetics, and
there is some beauty in our own destruction. Images of a silent avenue, where
all we see is a slice of blue sky in between two skyscrapers - that is the
canyon. The escalator moving at high speed - the waterfall. And the vast
plains are the houseing projects - as we step farther and farther away from
these elements of the city, or watch them at high speed, they are as beautiful
as the elements of nature. And that is a scary thing - that we have created
something not unlike nature, but that, unlike nature, will eventually destroy
One thing I enjoyed about the score was its juxtaposition with the images. By
this I mean that while the music rose to a frenzy and then gradually returned
to the original theme, the images continued to pile up until we viewed the
"pinnacle" of man's achievements, a piece of technological debris falling
through the sky. The effect is indescribable.
This film is the only film I have ever watched that has really affected me in
any way. I have seen numerous films that will leave me feeling sad for a
while after beacuse of some tragic plot, and I have seen movies that have
scared me because of images and ideas. But these feelings go away quickly and
Yet at the end of Koyaanisqatsi, I wept openly in front of my 120 classmates.
How can one film do such a thing? I was shaking for quite some time after.
And there weren't even any words.
The film is intimately connected with the ideas of modern destruction and
dependance on mechanization. As technology grows, we are not freed, but
Yet there is another element to the film: it shows a kind of beauty in our own
destruction. The images, such as a grid of condemned buildings, the explosion
of skyscrapers, the sped-up-pace of an escalator, when viewed fast enough, or
far enough away, have a kind of rhythm and order that is similar to that of
nature. It is as though humans have created a phenomenon similar to the
phenomenon of nature - yet nature will not trap us. The phenomenon we have
I have found copies of KOYAANISQATSI available in Australia. HOWEVER, they
are printed on a VHS format called PAL, which is the format used throughout
Europe, Australia, and much of Asia. The U.S. format, is called NTSC, and
if you purchase the videos from Australia, you will have to have them
converted to NTSC, or they will not play on your VCR. The conversion can
run anywhere from $30.00 to $60.00, and the quality of the picture does
suffer slightly from the conversion.
I am in the process of trying to get an original NTSC copy of the film from
the Australian company which has the distribution rights, and will let you
know how it turns out. In the meanwhile, here is an update on the failure
to re-release the film in the U.S. Apparently, the rights to the film were
owned by Polygram, which submitted 5 different copies to Godfrey Reggio for
his approval. He rejected all five prints, saying that the quality was too
poor. Polygram has since sold the rights, along with most of it's motion
picture catalogue, to MGM, which does not have any immediate plans for
re-releasing the movie. So there is a very great possibility that
KOYAANISQATSI will never be available on video tape, again! Perhaps a big
WRITE IN to MGM will get us some movement, especially now with the recent
re-release of the Philip Glass Soundtrack.
Should anyone wish to order the PAL formatted version, you may e-mail the
supplier in Australia, The Video Shift, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The priced
works out to about $15.00 (US dollars) per copy. The e-mail address for
MGM, ia www.mgm.com, and I suggest a massive e-mail effort if you intend to
make any headway with them.
Forgive the demagogy, but everyone who watches this incredible work of art must decide-
either morally or physically, probabely both- that is the impact it has on a single human
being ...Are we to stand passively by and watch our world destroyed, are we to stand mute to all the horrible crimes to our Mother and humanity- this is the question that is nagging us throuout the entire lenght of this extraordinary presentation. I only have one question- are we real or is it what we are perceiving just a visious illusion directed by "people" who hate life and spontainesness of it (anybody to correct me on this spelling is welcome) ,I don't know how to express what I feel (does anybody?) Like Reggio said, we lost our touch with reality- virtual life replaces natural life, we are all living in a synthethic reproduction of our world- computerised makeshift- could it be so bad already? My answer is no- but to many people out there it is a reality... Don't give up your humanity. It is you, and only you to decide...
I have a Betamax copy of Koyaanisqatsi which I will copy to VHS format and share with anyone willing to cover the cost of a virgin VHS T120 tape (US$2.00) and Priority Mail postage (US$3.20). Email your postal address to me: email@example.com
2669 Ardsheal Drive
La Habra Heights, CA 90631-7711
One word: Transfixed
OK two: Amazing
What the heck. How about an epilogue: The most amazing, transfixing scene
is the very end as the "debris" of man's failure spirals down, out of
control... out of balance.
Kirby L. Wallace
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