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Koyaanisqatsi Life out of Balance

Updated on April 18, 2020
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I love this film. It should be required for every art student.

Koyaanisqatsi The Film Poster

Koyaanisqatsi The Film Poster
Koyaanisqatsi The Film Poster

Koyaanisqatsi A Film By Francis Ford Coppola

Koyaanisqatsi, set to a moving score composed by Philip Glass, is the first film of the QATSI trilogy. It is a film that cannot be described or explained, it must be experienced. It is a remarkable film that touches profoundly and never lets you go. I've been a big fan of Koyaanisqatsi ever since I saw it at The Tivoli Theatre in the mid '80's. I was spellbound by the images and I've never looked at the world the same way since.

Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word that translates "Life out of Balance". The film visually exposes the "out-of-balance" aspects of our lives on this planet. Be prepared to be changed! Unlike I AM The Film Koyaanisqatsi isn't interested in offering any solutions, only making you aware with stunning visual images.

"...for the many attempts there have been at imitating or emulating this film, there is nothing that comes close to achieving that level of involvement with the viewer."

Image KOYAANISQATSI (Complete Original Soundtrack Version)

...the mind bending visceral experience known only as...Koyaanisqatsi

Koyaanisqatsi A Hopi Word

meaning 'life out of balance'. Created between 1975 and 1982, Koyaanisqatsi is an apocalyptic vision of two different worlds - urban life, and technology versus the environment.

Koyaanisqatsi - Life Out of Balance

This is an amazing film. You will never look at life the same way again. Every time I watch this film, I see something different.

Koyaanisqatsi, released in 1983, was ex-monk director Godfrey Reggio's debut as a film director and producer. "Reggio embarked on a cinematic journey to put his New Age pantheistic humanism on film."

As the first full-length commercial nonverbal film. Koyaanisqatsi cinematographer and editor Ron Fricke captures 90 minutes of stunning visual images of North America.

...almost as if this was an alien travel documentary on the Earth!

How To Pronouce Koyaanisqatsi or coy-on-is-cot-see)

(Hopi) [n]

The title comes from the native american Hopi ...

1. crazy life

2. life out of balance

3. life disintegrating

4. life in turmoil

5. a way of life that calls for another way of living.

Koyaanisqatsi - Life Out of Balance

Koyaanisqatsi is a sort of documentary with no actors, no plot and no script. All of the images in the film are of real life. The subject of the images vary greatly and are presented in such a way to show the contrast between human's and nature. The images provoke a thousand thoughts. Ron Fricke was the principal cinematographer but some of the scenes seem to be existing footage. The explosions and space rocket launch are unlikely to have been filmed by Ron Fricke or other members of the crew.

The Beginning

"The film uses extensive time lapse photography (which speeds images up) and slow motion photography.

In the beginning minutes, we see cloud formations moving (sped up) intercut with a montage of ocean waves (slowed down) and in such a way we are able to see the similarities of movement between these natural forces. This technique of comparison exists throughout the film.

The film progresses from purely natural environments to nature as affected by man, and finally to man's own man made environment, devoid of nature yet still following the patterns of natural flow as depicted in the beginning of the film, yet in chaos and disarray."

Every visual artist should see this film

Koyaanisqatsi Trailer

The experience itself is mind numbing and hypnotic. It's certainly a film you're not likely to forget anytime soon.

At times you don't know whether you are looking at a satellite photograph of a cityscape or a close-up of a circuit board or computer chip.

Koyaanisqatsi Part 1

"...the audience is taken on a bizarre journey as audio and images collide in a world that is both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time."

See The Film

Although this film is available online, it is best appreciated on the largest screen available. And the soundtrack can only be appreciated fully with a good speaker system. 85 minutes

Reviews For The Film

"Until now you have never really seen the world you live in" is the claim on the trailer for Koyaanisqatsi and for once the voice-over man is not hyperbolising. Koyaanisqatsi is indeed one of the most powerful, influential and affecting films ever made. Even though its iconic imagery has been much imitated, being appropriated for everything from television advertising to pop promotional videos (Madonna's 'Ray of Light' and Big Country's 'One Great Thing' come immediately to mind), it still has the power to genuinely move you to look differently at the world around you."


"The film Koyaanisqatsi is not traditional in any sense. It takes the viewer on a wild flight from the tranquil (seemingly lifeless) western deserts of the United States, through the great planes of the nation's heartland and mid-west, our forests and on to America's largest cities. The pace accelerates as the music and images drive individualism from the minds' eye. Modern technological life becomes impersonal and mechanical, and humans become robotic. Our everyday lives seem meaningless as we produce, consume, and maintain ever increasing amounts of need. Technology feeds on itself and tremendous amounts of resources are wasted as demonstrated in the demolition of New York City Projects in the film."

Robert Boak

The Best Scene

Art House & Film School Favorite

"An art-house (and film school) favorite Koyaanisqatsi (Life out of Balance) is one of those rare, oddly fulfilling cinematic experiences that as wonderful as it may be simply put, defies description. I can't even remember how many times I was forced to watch this film in college (film school, yup), but I do know that it is one of the few films that was forced upon me that I truly did enjoy. Luckily we will no longer have to try to track down the elusive out of print video or laser disc as MGM has graciously brought forth onto DVD the mind bending visceral experience known only as… Koyaanisqatsi." by Lawrence P. Raffel, Movies Editor

I guarantee you've never seen anything quite like it.

Add Koyaanisqatsi to Your Library

Every Visual Artist should have these films in their library.

The film is a must for the collection of any true fan of the cinema.

"Because of licencing and funding difficulties, its release on DVD has been a long time coming. Thankfully this MGM release does the film justice and as it is available in a double-pack with Powaqqatsi at a ridiculously cheap price, you really ought to have it in your DVD collection." ~Noel Megahey

"The incredible score provided by Philip Glass.

Just as important as the images, the score to Koyaanisqatsi is an integral part of the process. The new audio track is quite crisp and clear and there's no distortion here. Audio emanates from all speakers and at times nearly fills the room. It's subtle, but not too subtle, and when it's time for the power to kick in, it does. Also worth mentioning is the fact that MGM has included subtitles in French and Spanish. Considering the fact that barely a word is spoken, I'll just take it that the folks over at MGM have a wicked sense of humor (or a lot of free time on their hands).

Extras include a brief featurette that contains interviews with composer Philip Glass and director Godfrey Reggio, which runs about 25 minutes. Also included ate trailers for Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and the soon to be released Naqoyqatsi". by Lawrence P. Raffel, Movies Editor

After a decade in legal limbo, the first two films in the acclaimed Qatsi trilogy are available on home video. Not only are they available but they are available in their original widescreen format for the first time ever on home video. incredibly mind-blowing cinematic experience, a film I've been in love with for many years

"For me, this film was totally mesmeric ... powerful images and brilliant soundtrack."

Sound Track

Koyaanisqatsi is a documentary (of sorts). It is also a visual concert of images set to the haunting music of 'Phillip Glass'.

"While there is no plot in the traditional sense, there is a definite scenario. The film opens on ancient native American cave drawings, while the soundtrack chants "Koyaanisqatsi". This chant stays in my mind!"

The Haunting Amazing Soundtrack

The Soundtrack by Phillip Glass

The Soundtrack by Phillip Glass
The Soundtrack by Phillip Glass

Koyaanisqatsi Soundtrack "...Its simple beauty is stark, haunting, intense".

"The only real sound on the film is Philip Glass's symphonic score of string, woodwind instruments, chanted vocals and trademark rolling keyboard arpeggios. It is classic Glass, a soundtrack that even divorced from the powerful images, commands a tremendous emotional presence, piling crescendo upon crescendo. Although Glass has revisited the score recently making a new recording for DVD-Audio, the score that accompanies the film is the original remixed to 5.1. It is a good remix that remains faithful to the original Dolby stereo soundtrack. The presence of the music remains firmly focussed to the front, keeping it associated closely with the images but allowing an airier, atmospheric touch with discreet use of the rear channels. The bass organ is a little dull and muffled on occasions, but despite the lack of hi-fidelity sound, it is probably still preferable to retain the original performance to the slightly clinical quality of the new version. For the ultimate experience of this film however, I would recommend the live performance of the score to the film that Philip Glass still tours with his Ensemble."

~~Noel Megahey

Have you seen this film?

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Whether or not the movie exposes a world that is manifestly out of balance, Reggio and Glass's liturgy is that rarest of art forms: an avant-garde work with purpose and substance that also succeeds as entertainment.

— Mark Bourne,

Jaw dropping photography. A unique experience

Image From Koyaanisqatsi Trailer

Image From Koyaanisqatsi Trailer
Image From Koyaanisqatsi Trailer

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