DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Koyaanisqatsi
Koyaanisqatsi
MGM // Unrated // September 17, 2002
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted September 16, 2002 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
The Movie:

"Koyaanisqatsi" is one of the more unusual films to be made in the past twenty years. The film does not have a conventional plot - instead, the film presents images of man and nature, one right after another, for 87 minutes, complete with Philip Glass score in the background. While various images thrown together to send a message could have been clumsy in lesser hands, "Koyaanisqatsi" director Godfrey Reggio does manage to engage the eye and the senses, starting off with images of nature, then switching to images of man destroying nature, then images of people rushing in the midst of chaotic cityscapes.

"Koyaanisqatsi" is beautiful, "Koyaanisqatsi" is thought-provoking, but "Koyaanisqatsi" is not exactly subtle. The message is clear from the opening; we are destroying our planet, while the cities that we've created take away from our individuality; we're driftwood lost in an ocean. Technology is not only at our fingertips, it's a part of every moment of our lives.

Still, while the message is presented in a rather obvious fashion, it's certainly still very worthy of the viewer's interest and is captured in stunning fashion here. Director Reggio and cinematographer Ron Fricke provide city photography that's truly breathtaking at times, capturing the people on the street and buildings in a certain fashion (occasionally using editing tricks and time-lapse photography) to deliver their message through the visuals. Although I'm not a fan of Philip Glass's work, his minimalist score here provides fine accompaniment to the imagery.

Small concerns aside, this is still an excellent film that manages to tie its images together in a way that's powerful, creative and occasionally fascinating. As the cover art notes, the title actually is a Hopi Indian word for "life out of balance."


The DVD

VIDEO: "Koyaanisqatsi" is presented by MGM in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The new transfer is defnitely an impressive effort from the studio, as although the film is nearly twenty years of age, it still manages to mostly appear fresh and clean. As for sharpness and detail, some sequences in the film seemed to have an intentionally soft appearance, but for the most part, the film looked pleasantly crisp and well-defined.

The few problems that did occur during the presentation were mainly related to the age of the film. Although I was largely very pleased with the condition of the print, there were still a few little specks and the occasional mark, not to mention some hints of grain. Edge enhancement was not seen throughout the presentation, nor were any instances of pixelation or other artifacts. The film's few foggy/smoky scenes are handled quite perfectly by the transfer.

Unlike the similar film "Baraka" (which was directed by this film's cinematographer, Ron Fricke), "Koyaanisqatsi" has a fairly muted color palette; while occasional brighter colors appear, colors usually look earthy and natural. Overall, a very nice transfer - a bit above my expectations.

SOUND: "MGM" presents "Koyaanisqatsi" in remixed Dolby Digital 5.1. The main audio element present in the film is the score by Philip Glass (while Glass's score was remixed in 5.1 for a DVD-Audio release, I don't think this is the same mix), which is distributed nicely around the listening space.

MENUS: Basic, non-animated main and sub-menus.

EXTRAS: Although a commentary track would have been appreciated, there are still a few supplements on this release. The main extra is "Essence Of Life", which is a 25-minute documentary that mainly features interviews with director Reggio and composer Philip Glass. Reggio talks about his experiences during filming and provides enjoyable insight and analysis of the film, commenting that the experience of the film will be different things to different people (which I think is part of its appeal). Rounding out the supplemental section are trailers for "Naqoyqatsi" (which looks pretty grim), "Powaqqatsi" and "Koyaanisqatsi".

Final Thoughts: A visually dazzling film that only occasionally overdoes its message, "Koyaanisqatsi" is certainly an interesting experience that should be seen by anyone who has not yet had a chance to view it. MGM's new DVD edition provides a very nice looking new transfer and fine remastered soundtrack, but little in the way of supplements. This DVD is also available in a 2-pack with its "sequel", "Powaqqatsi". I'd also highly recommend "Baraka", a similar film that is also currently available on DVD.

Other Reviews:
Popular Reviews
1. Legend of Hell House
2. Pumpkinhead
3. All That Jazz
4. Chaplin's Mutual Comedies
5. The Walking Dead: Season 4
6. Last Man Standing Season 1
7. Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!: The Criterion Collection
8. Wilfred Season 3
9. Welcome Back, Kotter: The Complete Series
10. On the Beach


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use