DVD Review: ‘The Qatsi Trilogy’ Still Has Power to Mesmerize

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CHICAGO – Godfrey Reggio’s “Koyaanisqatsi,” “Powaqqatsi,” and “Naqoyqatsi” comprise one of the most fascinating trio of documentaries in the history of the form and whoever works at Criterion that decided to collect these landmark works into one Blu-ray and DVD box set deserves a raise. Not only is eash film lovingly restored for the release and accompanied by hours of special features but being able to fully appreciate “The Qatsi Trilogy” as one body of work is something all film fans should experience.

HollywoodChicago.com DVD rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

“The Qatsi Trilogy” is more than a mere trio of documentaries. Each of the films feels more like a visual poem than a traditional piece of film work. Working with compositions by Philip Glass, Reggio uses time-lapse footage that often contrasts the natural world versus the man-made one. These are works of music and visual compositions that try to move the viewer to think or even act without words. And Criterion has gone DEEP into their history to offer numerous special features that enhance the themes and stories behind how and why these movies got made. It’s a fantastic set of three movie that I had pretty much forgotten and I’m happy Criterion remedied their place in my personal collection.

The Qatsi Trilogy was released on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD on December 11, 2012
The Qatsi Trilogy was released on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD on December 11, 2012
Photo credit: Courtesy of The Criterion Collection

A singular artist and activist, Godfrey Reggio is best known for his galvanizing trio of films The Qatsi Trilogy. Astonishingly photographed, and featuring unforgettable, cascading scores by Philip Glass (Mishima), these are immersive sensory experiences that meditate on the havoc humankind’s fascination with technology has wreaked on our world. From 1983’s Koyaanisqatsi (the title is a Hopi word that means “life out of balance”) to 1988’s Powaqqatsi (“life in transformation”) to 2002’s Naqoyqatsi (“life as war”), Reggio takes us on an edifying journey from the ancient to the contemporary, from nature to industry and back again, all the while keeping our eyes wide with wonder.

StarClick here to buy “The Qatsi Trilogy”

Special Features:
o Essence Of Life: An Interview Program With Reggio And Composer Philip Glass on Koyaanisqatsi
o New Interview With Cinematographer Ron Fricke About Koyaanisqatsi
o Television Spots and a New Interview With Reggio Relating To His 1970s Multimedia Privacy Campaign In New Mexico
o Early Forty Minute Demo Version Of Koyaanisqatsi With A Partial Scratch Soundtrack Featuring Poet Allen Ginsberg, Along With A New Introduction By Reggio
o New Interview With Reggio About Footage
o Impact Of Progress: An Interview Program With Reggio And Glass On Their Collaboration
o Inspiration And Ideas: a New Interview With Reggio About His Greatest Influences And Teachers
o Public Television Interview With Reggio From 1989 About The Trilogy
Anima Mundi: Reggio’s Twenty-Eight-Minute Montage Of Footage Of Over Seventy Animal Species, Scored By Glass
o New Video Afterword By Reggio On The Trilogy
o The Making Of Naqoyqatsi: A Brief Documentary Featuring Interview With The Production Crew
o Panel Discussion On Naqoyatsi From 2003, With Reggio, Glass, Editor Jon Kane, And Music Critic John Rockwell
o Interview With Glass And Cellist Yo-Yo Ma
o Trailers
o Booklet Featuring Essays By Film Scholar Scott MacDonald, Rockwell, And Author And Environmentalist Bill McKibben

“The Qatsi Trilogy” was released on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD on December 11, 2012.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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