On Thursday April 6, Music Entertainment Committee (MEC) presented a whole new indie music experience through its screening of the well-renowned 1982 indie film “Koyaanisqatsi.” An American experimental film directed by Godfrey Reggio with music composed by Philip Glass, “Koyaanisqatsi” eventually became the first of the Qatsi Trilogy movie series. The second movie, “Powaqqatsi (Life in Transformation)” was released in 1988, while the third and last movie, “Naqoyqatsi (Life in War)” came out in 2002.
The word “Koyaanisqatsi” itself comes from the Hopi language, which is spoken by the Hopi tribe that mainly resides in northeastern Arizona. In the language, “Koyaanisqatsi” translates to “life out of balance.” As with the other movies in the Qatsi Trilogy, the movie depicted the various factors that sustained or developed the relationship between humans, technology and nature. Now considered as a cult film, “Koyaanisqatsi” focuses on the collision between urban life and the natural environment.
The film consists primarily of slow motion and time-lapse footage of cities and many natural landscapes across the United States. It contains neither dialogue nor a vocalized narration; tone is set by the juxtaposition of images and music. Reggio explained the lack of dialogue in the movie, stating that, “It’s not for lack of love of the language that these films have no words. It’s because, from my point of view, our language is in a state of vast humiliation. It no longer describes the world in which we live.”
However, it is the soundtrack and use of music that inspired the film’s cult following. Glass’ work in the movie eventually became a highly renowned example of minimalist music, which is characterized by protracted repetition of figures, obsessive structural rigor and often a pulsing, hypnotic effect.
Glass became one of the first composers to employ minimalism in film scoring, thus paving the way for future minimalist composers. MEC hoped that through this showing, Oles get to experience music in a completely new way.