F.I.L.M. of the Week (April 19, 2013)

19 04 2013

I’m sure when you hear the words avant-garde or experimental cinema, your first instinct is to run as far as possible in the opposite direction.  There’s no shame in that; heck, it was how I felt for a very long time.  But now I’ve realized that sometimes to find the most exciting and challenging ideas that film has to offer, you might have to venture outside of the mainstream.

That impulse was how I stumbled upon “Koyaanisqatsi,” Godfrey Reggio’s masterpiece of picture and sound that is my pick for the “F.I.L.M. of the Week.”  Over 30 years after its initial release, the film still manages to be jolting and provocative.  It asks tough questions about modern life and our relationship to nature, suggesting that perhaps we are living out the translation of the title: life out of balance.

It engages the audience in this conversation, however, without saying a single word.  No title cards either until the ending credits.  So it’s even more silent than a Chaplin film like “Modern Times” or 2011’s “The Artist.”  Don’t be daunted though!  It’s not hard to pull meaning from this film.

The images are tremendously powerful, speaking volumes in the absence of dialogue.  Yes, that means you can’t text and watch “Koyaanisqatsi.”  But with all that extra attention that has to be paid, just think of all you can observe.  I highly recommend just sitting back and letting the film wash over you like a perfume.  Look at the beauty and simplicity of the natural world … and then contrast it with the hectic industrial and urban world.  Watch how they are different, and yet somehow similar.  See how “balance” was constructed in 1983 … and marvel at how we still grapple with the same issues.


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2 responses

20 04 2013
ninvoid99

This was one of the first avant-garde films that I’ve seen and man… it’s nothing like it. I want to see the entire trilogy. I hope to get that Criterion set very soon.

20 04 2013
Marshall

Yeah, I’d love to see the others too!

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