Naqoyqatsi, Godfrey Reggio's third part of the Qatsi trilogy.
Naqoyqatsi is he final part of the Qatsi trilogy, in which Godfrey Reggio expresses technology and more modern times.
Different in content to Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi.
Naqoyqatsi has been made many years after the rest of the films features in this web site. Due to legal reasons Naqoyqatsi was delayed as the legal rights over Koyaanisqatsi where resolved. Godfrey Reggio clearly wanted to make Naqoyqatsi different to Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi.
Naqoyqatsi doesn't contain beautiful images of North America, empty housing projects or mines in Brazil that we saw in Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi. Naqoyqatsi gives us images of western life today. Constant images of dark building, armies, wars, molecules and technology. Most shots in Naqoyqatsi are filtered and the film has a definite feel about it.
It doesn't offer or aim to achieve the same thinking process that Koyaanisqatsi or Baraka do. I would recommended watching Naqoyqatsi if you are a real fan of these films.
Director Godfrey Reggio on the world in which we live
By any measure, we live in an extraordinary and extreme time. Language can no longer describe the world in which we live. With antique ideas and old formulas, we continue to describe a world that is no longer present. In this loss of language, the word gives way to the image as the 'language' of exchange, in which critical thought disappears to a diabolic regime of conformity - the hyper-real, the omnipresent image. Language, real place gives way to numerical code, the real virtual; metaphor to metamorphosis; body to disembodiment; natural to supernatural; many to one. Mystery disappears, replaced by the illusion of certainty in technological perfection.
Technology, acceleration do not affect our way of living - they are, in effect, our new and comprehensive host of life, the environment of living itself. It is not the effect of technology on the environment, culture, economy, religion, etc., but rather that all these categories exist in technology. In this sense technology is new nature. The living environment, old nature, is replaced by a manufactured milieu, an engineered host - synthetic nature. In a real sense, we are off planet, dwelling on a lunar surface of stone, cement, asphalt, glass, steel and plastics, engulfed in the atmosphere of electromagnetic vibrations - the soothing lullaby of the machine. The common notion tells us that technology is neutral, that we can use it for either good or bad. From the p.o.v. of NAQOYQATSI, we do not use technology, we live technology; technology is our way of life. Being sensate entities, we become our environment - we become what we see, what we hear, what we eat, what we smell, what we touch. Where doubt is prohibited, we become, without question, the environment we live in. With our origins based in the natural order, should this context radically change (as I am suggesting), the mysterious nature of the human being shall also radically change - a change that will reflect the transformation of nature itself, at a turning point or vanishing point. Natural diversity becomes a burnt offering, sacrificed to the infinite appetite of technological homogenization.
So forget science fiction. We now live the fiction of science. We are now, not in some remote future, cyborgs. We are at one with our environment - we are technology. In this wonderland, freedom becomes the pursuit of our technological happiness. Our standard of living is predicated on commodity consumption, as the shibboleth of the new religion is 'pray for more'. In vehicles of ecstasy, with cinematic engines of inertia at audiovisual speed, trans-port and tele-port blend into one. The beginning becomes the end. The port disappears in the speed of light. The nanosecond (one billionth of an 'old second'), technological speed, transforms reality as it creates an ecstatic phenomena of compelling and unparalleled intensity. By human measure, charismatic technique portends the miraculous, as it engenders the condition of 'exit velocity' - a condition that blurs human perceptions, shatters all meanings, drains all content and breaks our bonds to earth. All locations are subsumed into the startling terra firma of the image, a demonic conformity that is the genesis of massman. In the shadow of the mass, all previous definitions crumble. The 'time' and 'space' of history exit to an homogenized zone of no return. In this supernatural implosion of g-force, human moorings give way, sending Homo sapiens out-of-orbit into the void of technological space. The accompanying loss of original habitat and our subsequent relocation into accelerated space, throws nature into catastrophe, as it engenders traumatic stress syndrome as the now normal condition of post-human existence. Technique, while promising comfort and happiness, means power, means control, means conformity, means destiny. Technology creates a condition of war that is at once universal and unseen. The explosive tempo of technology is war; the un-tellable violence of relocation in technology is war. All of us are refugees driven from our human state.
As the completion of the Qatsi trilogy, NAQOYQATSI offers a cinematic concert to experience the allurement, seduction and sanctioned terror of ordinary daily living - a world at war beyond the battlefield, a conflagration between old and new nature - total war. The vision of NAQOYQATSI is a world made in the image and likeness of the new divine, the computer - a world where unity is held in the vice of technological homogenization, the globalized world of techno-fascism, the age of civilized violence.
It must be noted that the production of NAQOYQATSI employs the very medium that it questions. In doing so, we embrace the contradiction of using technology to question technology. Given the intention of the film is to commune, to connect, we employ the franca lingua of the technological order - what Baudrillard terms 'the evil demon of images'. The image becomes our location. We relocate onto the image, onto our venerated familiar, the iconic, as we reshuffle the deck to offer an iconoclastic experience in the form of a film. Indeed, the subject of NAQOYQATSI is itself the manufactured image, a horizonless digital landscape, devoid of reality yet full of promise. The tools that produced the film are themselves our subject.
Na-qoy-qatsi: (nah koy' kahtsee) N. From the Hopi Language. <each other-kill many-life> 1. A life of killing each other. 2. War as a way of life. 3. (Interpreted) Civilized violence.
A motion picture experience beyond words, NAQOYQATSI merges the power of image and music to plunge into the heart of the hyper-accelerated, globally wired 21st century. Mesmerizing images plucked from everyday reality, then visually altered with state-of-the-art digital techniques, stream across the screen in synch with a hypnotic score by Philip Glass, featuring the passionate cello work of Yo-Yo Ma. Despite the film's nonverbal nature, the ultimate effect of its starkly futuristic, computer-enhanced visual fabric is to get people talking about how technology is altering everything: media, art, entertainment, sports, politics, medicine, warfare, ethics, nature, culture and the very face of the human future.
NAQOYQATSI is presented by Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh, who was drawn to the film's vision of a brave new globalized world in which the coming battles include humans versus computers, money versus values and life versus its simulation. "Godfrey Reggio has created yet another landmark film," says Soderbergh. "NAQOYQATSI is an explosion of ideas and imagery; a riveting, rigorous, provocative, and breathtaking exploration of how we've allowed technology to infiltrate our everyday lives."
Nearly every image in NAQOYQATSI is a special visual effect. Some 80 percent of the film's footage is culled from stock footage (from such sources as scientific and military films, newsreels, corporate videos, sports documentaries, cartoons, television shows and commercials), most of which has been radically altered with digital technology. Images have been colorized or de-colorized, stretched, slowed or speeded up, re-patterned, re-textured and "re-animated," turning the familiar into something startlingly new. By using the cutting edge in filmmaking technology, NAQOYQATSI provides a dizzying view of today's world as seen through the lens of the very machinery that has created it.
NAQOYQATSI is the third and final feature film in "The Qatsi Trilogy" which began with the groundbreaking "KOYAANISQATSI," a revelatory, kaleidoscopic view of clashing urban and natural landscapes in North America, and continued with "POWAQQATSI," a journey around the world unfolding primal traditions and the influx of new technology. The films have been described as cinematic "head trips" that take audiences into a realm of pure sensory experience. Together, they have also become a rare artistic chronicle of the turbulent transition between the 20th and 21st centuries and its as-yet-unseen consequences. NAQOYQATSI now leaps ahead to capture the essence of globalization as barrier-breaking advances in robotics, quantization and digital communications spread like wildfire across the planet. This final part of the "Qatsi" series presents one man's vision of what we are hurtling towards in a world where technology reigns: unprecedented extremes of promise, spectacle, tragedy and finally, hope.
Like a concert, NAQOYQATSI unfolds in three movements. MOVEMENT ONE explores the newly wired world and the ongoing evolution from human language to numerical code. MOVEMENT TWO delves into the realms of sports, competition and gaming, which have become worldwide addictions. MOVEMENT THREE takes off on a journey into sheer speed and the breakneck acceleration of 21st century life -- pondering what it is like to remember the future and truly experience the present.
NAQOYQATSI is written and directed by Godfrey Reggio, with an original score by Philip Glass featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Jon Kane is the editor and visual designer. The executive producer is Steven Soderbergh and the producers are Lawrence Taub and Joe Beirne. The co-producer is Mel Lawrence, and the director of photography is Russell Lee Fine.
Whether your intellect is completely engaged or passively detached, any viewing of Naqoyqatsi is likely to provoke a fascinating response. You can view it as a magnificent, visually stimulating music video (as critic Roger Ebert suggested you should), or in context as the third and most unsettling film in director Godfrey Reggio's "qatsi" trilogy, each titled from the Hopi language, and preceded by Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi ("Life out of Balance" and "Life in Transformation," respectively). "Life as War" is the translation of this film's title, and Reggio's theme is not one of conventional warfare, but of daily life as warfare in the age of rapidly evolving technology. The entire trilogy views humankind as a blight on the pristine nature of Earth, but here the theme is taken to its inevitable extreme: a constant flow of new and archival images--manipulated with solarization, digital enhancements, thermal effects, 2-D and 3-D animation, etc.--combine to convey athletic and military regimentation, culminating in the doomsday flowering of missiles, rockets, and all varieties of nuclear weaponry. The cumulative effect, when combined with Philip Glass's mesmerizing score (his best of the trilogy, with cello solos by Yo-Yo Ma) is one of doom-laden portent, but, as Stephen Holden observed in the New York Times, the film is also arrestingly beautiful as it weaves its hypnotic, apocalyptic spell. For those who wish to delve further, Reggio, Glass, and editor/visual designer Jon Kane provide valuable insight in a bonus panel discussion. --Jeff Shannon
Miramax Home Entertainment and Oscar(R)-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh (Best Director, TRAFFIC, 2000) present NAQOYQATSI ("Life As War"), from filmmaker Godfrey Reggio, in collaboration with composer Phillip Glass, whose original score features renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma. In this cinematic concert -- the concluding film of the Qatsi Trilogy preceded by the critically acclaimed KOYAANISQATSI ("Life Out Of Balance"), and POWAQQATSI ("Life In Transformation") -- mesmerizing images reanimated from everyday reality, then visually altered with state-of-the-art digital techniques, chronicle the shift from a world organized by the principles of nature to one dominated by technology, the synthetic, and the virtual. Extremes of intimacy and spectacle, tragedy and hope, fuse in a tidal wave of visuals and music, giving rise to a unique artistic experience that reflects Reggio's visions of a brave new globalized world.