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Today we watched Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of balance. (Well, the truth is I wasn't there, but I'll talk about it anyway.) Koyaanisqatsi is a Swedish film from 1983 produced by Institute for Regional Education, Santa Fe / Island Alive.

Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word meaning "life out of balance." The movie may be difficult to watch for those with a short attention span and limited aesthetic values, but these are the people who need to see it the most. Not a single word is spoken throughout the entire film. It consists only of images and music conveying an overly crowded and complex world.

Some may not see a direct overpopulation message in the movie, but it does an excellent job of contrasting the hyperactivity of a modern city with the simplicity of nature.

The images in the end of the film of modern industrial life contrasted with the more "natural" landscapes of the beginning give the movie a very anti-industrial feeling. It's interesting, however, that the film also shows the beauty and power of technology in that it is its self a product of technolgy. The film shows crowds of people rushing around metropolises, but doesn't show those few souls documenting it all on camera.

This feeling of watching an ant colony is intensified with the superb photography of typical production lines. Here the machines are master and the workers scurry around, forever at the mercy of the conveyor belt. On a larger scale the teeming freeways are analogous to the blood vessels of our own bodies - cities as a symbiotic life-form. But, this is no life. Humans, like trained primates, are shown to be in the rat-race like never before with no hope of redemption. Indeed, the images of fire and destruction seem to foretell an apocalyptic future unless we choose to return to our roots - like the Hopi Indians perhaps?

        Translation of the Hopi Prophecies sung in the film

If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster.

Near the Day of Purification, there will be cobwebs spun back and forth in the sky.

A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky, which could burn the land and boil the ocean.

Related Links:

Koyaanisqatsi and Generation X Phys 199 student responses

Internet Movie Database

A couple of wav clips from the movie