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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Video afterword by Reggio on the trilogy
  • The Making of "Naqoyqatsi," a brief documentary featuring interviews with the production crew Panel discussion on Naqoyqatsi from 2003, with Reggio, Glass, editor Jon Kane, and music critic John Rockwell
  • Music of "Naqoyqatsi," an interview with Glass and cellist Yo-Yo Ma
  • Theatrical Trailer

Naqoyqatsi

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Godfrey Reggio
2002 | 89 Minutes | Licensor: Lionsgate

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $79.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #642
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: December 11, 2012
Review Date: December 15, 2012

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SYNOPSIS

Godfrey Reggio takes on the digital revolution in the final chapter of his Qatsi Trilogy, Naqoyqatsi. With a variety of cinematic techniques, including slow motion, time-lapse, and computer-generated imagery, the film tells of a world that has completely transitioned from a natural environment to a human-made one. Globalization is complete, all of our interactions are technologically mediated, and all images are manipulated. From this (virtual) reality, Reggio sculpts a frenetic yet ruminative cinematic portrait of a world that has become officially postlanguage.

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

The third part of Godfrey Reggio’s Qatsi Trilogy, Naqoyqatsi, comes to Blu-ray in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 on this dual-layer disc. The film is given a new 1080p/24hz high-definition transfer.

What is there to say about Naqoyqatsi other than of the three films it’s easily the ugliest looking one. A minimal amount of new footage was shot, making up around 30% of the finished film according to the notes in the booklet, so it relies on stock footage from various sources ranging from 16mm film to VHS to standard-definition footage. This footage has then been edited together and altered digitally, in most cases stretched out from 4:3 to 16:9. Despite all of this, though the key problem with the presentation here is that the source is severely limited by the computer technology used over 10 years ago to alter this footage and there are all sorts of issues that are simply inherent in the source. Jagged edges, artifacts, edge-enhancement, and banding can get very heavy in some of the altered sequences. Some footage that looks to be ripped from VHS also present a number of issues one would expect from VHS, like fuzziness or general wear-and-tear and distortion. Colours have been so heavily altered in most cases it’s hard to judge how accurate they are, but some of the mostly animated sequences present some striking reds, pinks, and oranges. Blacks are also quite solid. New footage that hasn’t been altered, like the opening sequence, actually look pretty good as well, delivering some striking details.

Other than damage inherent in the stock footage used there’s nothing else of note in terms of print condition and I’m sure the transfer accurately represents the film. Unfortunately the image is held back by the antiquated technology used to develop the film, which only seems to be heightened on Blu-ray.

7/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

I admittedly found Philip Glass’ score a little lackluster for this film but it’s delivered well here. Again the orchestra surrounds the viewer and Yo-Yo Ma’s cello comes through clearly on occasion, and how it manages to come off like its singing is the best aspect of it. Sound quality is sharp and clear, and both range and bass are excellent. Though the score may not have done much for me and probably only becomes more active around chapter 8, the presentation is still clear and on par with the other films.

10/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Most of the supplements on here appear to be carried over from the original Disney/Miramax DVD edition of the film (which is now distributed by Lionsgate) but they begin with a new addition, Afterwords by the Director, which is a new interview with Godfrey Reggio where the director reflects on the trilogy as a whole. He praises the talent of all of those involved in the films from Ron Fricke to Philip Glass to John Kane and reflects on rounding up funds for the film and seems surprised by their success. He’s also amused by the fact stores didn’t know how to categorize the films when they were released on home video. He then concludes with talking about his obsession with the number “3” and then goes over the styles and themes found within the films. It’s only 16-minutes but a decent enough summation of his thoughts on the films.

Following this is a fairly useless PR piece called The Making of “Naqoyqatsi” which features interviews with Reggio, Glass, Kane, and producer John Beirne. It only runs 4-minutes and doesn’t really present anything of value.

Much better is footage from a 2003 panel discussion featuring Reggio, Glass, Kane, and, acting as moderator, music critic John Rockwell, who all go over the trilogy as a whole but pay special attention to Naqoyqatsi. It was included on the original DVD as well. Most can probably skip through the first 20-minutes of the 54-minute feature if they’ve watched the supplements on the other discs in the set as Reggio and Glass repeat a lot of information found in those supplements, from how they collaborated to Reggio again mentioning how he wanted Koyaanisqatsi’s title to actually just be an image. But it gets more interesting when editor/designer Kane (who receives a rather brutal introduction by Rockwell) talks about how Naqoyqatsi was put together, though I cringed when Photoshop gets mentioned. One of the more interesting aspects about the films not mentioned anywhere else in the supplements on the other discs in the set were the “scenarios” Kane had to work with. It turns out the films did have a script of sorts, but they’re made up simply of images and notes on what each sequence represents. In this case Kane took these scenarios and then searched for stock footage to best suit them, shooting scenes in some cases where appropriate footage couldn’t be found, and then put them together using Avid.

Another interesting aspect taken from here is how Naqoyqatsi was originally planned. Reggio mentions that the idea of the film remained the same since the 90’s, though actually wanted to use analog technologies to do it. He even approached George Lucas for money and even though Lucas agreed he told Reggio that what he wanted to do would be impossible. Reggio realized he was right and held off on the film. This film is so different in structure compared to the other two I wondered if Reggio had drastically changed the idea of the film over the years but apparently this wasn’t the case. All that changed was how he would do it. In all the most valuable supplement on this disc, and one of the better ones in the overall set.

Also from the original Miramax DVD is a conversation between Philip Glass and Yo-Yo Ma, who talk about the music and the use of the cello for 7-minutes. It’s a decent inclusion, especially when the two obviously really get into talking about the “movement” of the music, seeming to forget the camera is there recording them. The disc then closes with the film’s theatrical trailer. The set then comes with a booklet that goes over the trilogy.

Although most of the supplements are carry-overs from the previous DVD, other than the PR piece they’re all pretty good. I do somewhat wish more new material could have been included, like a scholarly addition on the trilogy as a whole for example. As it stands, though, most everything here is worth going through.

7/10

CLOSING

Though it offers a couple of strong supplements the presentation is the weakest of the three films, but only because of how the film was put together.


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