NAQOYQATSI: Roger Ebert reviews the latest film in the “Qatsi” trilogy by director Godfrey Reggio. Koyaanisqatsi, Reggio’s first film, was about man and technology and was largely filmed in the US. its sequel, Powaqqatsi was about technology’s influence on the third world. Naqoyqatsi, the concluding film in the trilogy, is about man, technology and war.
The thinking behind these films is deep but not profound. They’re ritualistic grief at what man has done to the planet. “The logical flaw,” as I pointed out in my review of “Powaqqatsi,” is that “Reggio’s images of beauty are always found in a world entirely without man–without even the Hopi Indians. Reggio seems to think that man himself is some kind of virus infecting the planet–that we would enjoy the earth more, in other words, if we weren’t here.”
Or as I recently wrote about Koyaanisqatsi for Blogcritics:
Running 87 minutes without a stitch of dialogue, Koyaanisqatsi nonetheless carries a powerful emotional message. Of course, what that message is depends on what the viewer wants to take away from the film. I think it’s a safe bet that Godfrey Reggio, the director of Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi believes, more or less, in most of the standard shibboleths of the environmental left: man is bad, technology is bad, nature is best left pristine, etc. Kill ’em all: let Gaia sort it out.
As far as this latest film, Ebert writes:
Although “Naqoyqatsi” has been some 10 years in the making, it takes on an especially somber coloration after 9/11. Images of marching troops, missiles, bomb explosions and human misery are intercut with trademarks (the Enron trademark flashes past), politicians and huddled masses, and we understand that war is now our way of life. But hasn’t war always been a fact of life for mankind? We are led to the uncomfortable conclusion that to bring peace to the planet, we should leave it.
Of course. The far fringes of the environmental left really would be much happier if the planet was vacated. Of course, so few of them are willing to put their money where their mouths are, and check out early in an effort to speed the process up.
Reggio, with the dramatic music of Philip Glass underscoring them, creates awesome images, and I do plan to see Naqoyqatsi if it makes its way out to San Jose. But to take their underlying message seriously is dangerous–not to mention deadly.