Director: Godfrey Reggio
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Date: October 14, 2003
December 1, 2003
In this cinematic concert
mesmerizing images are reanimated from every day reality, then
visually altered with state-of-the-art digital techniques, to
chronicle the shift from
a world organized by the
principles of nature to one
dominated by technology, the
synthetic and the
virtual. This film concludes the
Trilogy, preceded by Koyaanisqatsi ("Life Out Of
("Life In Transformation").
Of all three films in the
trilogy, I like Koyaanisqatsi the most. It's simple, yet
so complicated and mesmerizing. The numerous montages, like the
city life and workers at the factory, are just so compelling to
watch. Director Godfrey Reggio pays a lot of attention to
detail. He places the camera in situations and places to capture
moments most people never get to see. Many of the images in Powaqqatsi
are magnificent in the way they portray the subjects. A small
child walks along a dirt road as an enormous truck drives by.
Others are of grand landscapes and people living their lives.
The most powerful images are clearly present in the second film.
However, Powaqqatsi tends to go on tangents. Essentially,
both of these films have their themes. They are not alike in the
way images are captured and appear, but they are connected by
designs of evolution.
Naqoyqatsi fits into this
design by displaying how technology has infiltrated our
societies and lives, either by force or choice.
As much as I
wanted to like
Naqoyqatsi, I just
couldn't. My problem is mostly the subject matter. Well, in this
case, it's the presentation of the subjects and its images.
Unlike its predecessors, Naqoyqatsi is presented in a
most unusual way.
Images are visually altered with
state-of-the-art digital techniques, distorting them and thereby
creating a weird sea of pictures crawling across the screen.
Despite great efforts to create rousing images, I just didn't
connect with them on a visual level. They just seem too
abstract. Some images look fantastic and rousing, but in general
they are not as powerful as those in Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi.
Clearly the best aspect about
Naqoyqatsi is the music by
Philip Glass (The Hours) and Yo-Yo Ma. Their music is an
opera, yet it also tells a story by the way notes are arranged
and played. I love to listen to music, and I don't mean Kid Rock
or Coldplay. Compositions, either classical or film scores, are
just so relaxing. In this film the music plays a very large
role; it accompanies every image and montage. With Glass
composing and Yo-Yo Ma playing the cello, Naqoyqatsi is a
terrific auditory experience. In that regard, the film provides
a rousing presentation. I'm not dismissing Naqoyqatsi
based on its visual presentation. I simply didn't connect with
the images, but the music guided me through the film.
Naqoyqatsi in 1.78:1
anamorphic widescreen. Colors are quite vibrant and
well-saturated at times. On other occasions they are a bit
subdued. Colors detail is nice. The print image is pretty clear.
I didn't notice any grain or compression artifacts. A lot of
shots in the film are enhanced by CGI or other forms or
distortion. These scenes look pretty decent, but not pristine by
any means. There is certain clarity in this presentation, but
not throughout the film.
English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. There is no dialogue
present in the film, only the beautiful and effective score by
Philip Glass and Yo-Yo Ma. This presentation accentuates the
score a great deal. The front speakers are clearly hard at work,
giving the soundtrack some good dynamic range. Surrounds act up
as well, but not on a consistent basis. The overall soundtrack
presentation is very nice. The amount of clarity and precision
is so good due to the magnificent score.
Buena Vista didn't hand us a barebones release. Life is War
is a pretty brief discussion about the film with director
Godfrey Reggio and executive producer Steven Soderbergh. Next is
Music of Naqoyqatsi: A Conversation with Philip Glass
and Yo-Yo Ma where the two discuss aspects of the film and
score. A decent NYU panel discussion is also included.
Rounding out the extras are bonus trailers for
Naqoyqatsi features some
incredible images, but they're too abstract for my tastes. It's
the fantastic music that makes this film a rousing experience.
Video/audio quality is perfectly fine. For film enthusiasts, a
rental will do just fine. Anyone else should check out the first
two films in the trilogy before thinking about the third one.
(not an average)
VERDICT: RENT IT