Visual arts: Powaqqatsi

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by petzi, Mar 29, 2003.

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  1. petzi

    petzi Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Germany
    I bought a DVD of Powaqqatsi today, for 5 bucks :)

    I had watched Koyaanisqatsi in the past, and found it very interesting. Powaqqatsi is a sequel.

    While watching this movie, I thought it fully qualified as visual art and had to think of this forum. Really beautiful, great photography. Go see it :D
     
  2. Ed Bishop

    Ed Bishop Incredibly, I'm still here

    A fine film it is, though it does lack the visual beauty of some of KOYAANISQATSI, for obvious reasons. It does qualify equally as visual arts or music, since Philip Glass' score is just as important as anything seen. But, as you wisely chose the DVD, here we are!(the soundtrack was issued by Elektra/Nonesuch on vinyl and CD back in 1988).

    It's an interesting montage depicting third world poverty, exploitation, and ever-encroaching western civilization. Forests are raped, peasants used for the cheapest and harshest labor imaginable on this planet, and to what end? 'Progress" of course, on the backs of the least fortunate(though look for various subtexts throughout you can miss on first viewing--I certainly did).

    Although both DVD's were issued individually, initially a 2-fer package was offered for $20 at Best Buy, which is where I got mine. I'm only sorry the extras are so skimpy, as commentary tracks would have been most welcome, even if, after several viewings, it's not hard to figure out just where the director is going. Both films are politically leftist in nature, although the former moreso, yet with arguably some accidental beauty where the intention was exactly the opposite. Not the case with this one: it's dirty, gritty, and without the music, ultimately very depressing. Watch it without the sound sometime, and it becomes so obvious:(

    ED:cool:
     
  3. petzi

    petzi Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Germany
    Hmm, interesting point of view. First of all, since not a word is spoken, I would say that your interpretation that the film is politically leftist is a little bit over the top.

    It is not obvious to me what the people in the inital scenes are actually doing, but it seems to be a depressing thing, I agree with you here.

    On the other hand, many scenes more towards the middle of the movie seem a lot more pleasant. Some of the shots reminded me of the work of Yann-Arthus Bertrand, have you seen any of his images from the series "Earth from Above"?

    I do not agree that hard manual labor is necessarily a depressing and and exploitational thing to everybody. I think this is arrogant attitude from first world dwellers. Of course *I* would not like to cultivate the fields with my hands or simple tools, but I wouldn't say that it is a bad thing to everybody as long as these people work in traditional ways and for their own benefit.
     
  4. Ed Bishop

    Ed Bishop Incredibly, I'm still here

    Hmm...have to be careful with that word: I'm not sure 'leftist' in Europe means the same as it does here. Let's just say the director(Godfrey Reggio)would be considered on *the left* in the US, since he tends to see technology as mostly an intrusion and not a benefit. His first film, in fact, needs no words to convey how modern technology and progress rapes and subverts the land to feed cities, which turn out to be hectic, congested, and indifferent. The subtitle of this film--Life In Transformation--shows changes, some positive, true, but also the cost of that transformation from simple rural living feeding something much bigger. There is a certain sympathy here toward people that is very much often missing from KOYAANISQATSI.

    They're dragging wet earth in sacks up a very steep hill--of their own making, for what purpose the film leaves unclear.

    Sadly, no, though I've heard of him. He does borrow a bit from other films during these passages, and they form a respite of sorts. But Reggio deftly sets up this beauty with previous and future images of hardship, labor, and urban sprawl. The darker edges of this movie take directly from the first.

    My reference is mainly to the film's preface(the 'earth hauling' intro); a few overhead shots clearly show the workers as ants/drones/workers. There's nothing at all wrong with manual labor; didn't mean to suggest that.

    I'll also add the transfer of this film is superior to the first, often vividly so; it was fuzzier when I saw it at the local college theater. Soundtrack also has more punch. Highly recommended, both. I'm not sure they're long destined to be in print; big sales never expected on titles like these.

    BTW, did your DVD come with the Reggio/Glass bonus material?

    ED:cool:
     
  5. petzi

    petzi Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Germany
    As I said my copy was 5 $/€, I might not have the latest and greatest version. My impression was that sound and image are pretty good. It is a German edition. I can hardly ever watch the same edition as you, because of the PAL TV system we have, and because of region codes...

    I will check tomorrow if I have any bonus material, I don't think so.

    I did buy the new soundtrack of Koyaanisqatsi on DVD-A recently, but I haven't found much time to listen to it yet. It appears to be a complete re-recording. I think the original recording was flawed.
     
  6. Ed Bishop

    Ed Bishop Incredibly, I'm still here

    That's interesting info, since this was our first DVD release of either title.
    From what you say yours must have been issued at least a few years ago, so it may be different. If yours isn't letterboxed, then it has to be, since both MGM DVD's here are LB'd to around 1.85:1.

    The DVD-A of KOYAANISQATSI is a 5.1 reissue of the CD put out by Nonesuch a few years ago. It was a rerecording, but not because of any flaw in the original soundtrack. I believe it was done for the rerelease in US theaters of the film, with Glass touring to selected venues and bringing an orchestra along to play the soundtrack live as the movie unspooled(he had, I believe, done this initially as well).

    The original soundtrack was put out on Island, and was a remixed and edited version of the film's score, shortened(and without certain passages)
    due to the nature of the recording, and the Lp format at the time, which was dominant(it was issued on CD a year or so after the original vinyl).

    In this regard, I have no preference; the 5.1 DVD-A is great for what it is--comes close to the movie sound, though more intense in places and, by nature, even the stereo is different, since the sound in no way matches the tonality of the original score and Lp remix. The redbook CD of the '84 Lp is still worthwhile, however, but, again, different from the soundtrack of the film itself.

    ED:cool:
     
  7. tone ded freb

    tone ded freb Forum Resident

    Location:
    Arizona Snowbowl
    Anyone interested in this film trilogy should check out the latest installment, Naqoyqatsi. It's still playing in theaters, but not for long I don't think. It had a pretty limited run. I haven't had a theater within maybe 350 miles of me playing it. If you're in a big city with an art house theater, you may be able to catch it. If not, it should be on DVD in June. I have the soundtrack, Glass again, very nice. Yo-Yo Ma on cello! Check out the site: http://www.naqoy.com . I picked up one of the limited edition Koyaanisqatsi DVDs signed by the director, Reggio. It's the only edition in the 4:3 ratio, not cropped at all, full-frame.
     
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