639-642 The Qatsi Trilogy

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Jeff
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639-642 The Qatsi Trilogy

#1 Post by Jeff » Mon Sep 22, 2008 3:19 am

The Qatsi Trilogy

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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, 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.

Koyaanisqatsi

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An unorthodox work in every way, Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi was nevertheless a sensation when it was released in 1983. The film wordlessly surveys the rapidly changing environments of the northern hemisphere. The director, cinematographer Ron Fricke, and composer Philip Glass created an astonishing collage; the film shuttles the viewer from one jaw-dropping vision to the next, moving from images of untouched nature to others depicting human beings’ increasing reliance on technology. Often using hypnotic time-lapse photography, Koyaanisqatsi looks at our world from an angle unlike any other.


Powaqqatsi

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Five years after Godfrey Reggio stunned audiences with Koyaanisqatsi,, he joined forces again with composer Philip Glass and other collaborators for a second chapter. Here, Reggio turns his sights on third world nations in the southern hemisphere. Forgoing the sped-up aesthetic of the first film, Powaqqatsi employs a meditative slow motion in order to reveal the everyday beauty of the traditional ways of life of native people in Africa, Asia, and South America, and to show how those cultures are being eroded as their environment is gradually taken over by industry. This is the most intensely spiritual segment of Reggio’s philosophical and visually remarkable Qatsi Trilogy.


Naqoyqatsi

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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.


DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION COLLECTOR’S SET:

- New, restored high-definition digital transfers of all three films, approved by director Godfrey Reggio, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks on the Blu-ray editions
- Essence of Life, an interview program with Reggio and composer Philip Glass on Koyaanisqatsi
- New interview with cinematographer Ron Fricke about Koyaanisqatsi
- Early forty-minute demo version of Koyaanisqatsi with a scratch soundtrack by Allen Ginsberg, along with a new introduction by Reggio
- New interview with Reggio about Koyaanisqatsi’s original visual concept, with behind-the-scenes footage
- Impact of Progress, an interview program with Reggio and Glass on their collaboration
- Inspiration and Ideas, an interview with Reggio about his greatest influences and teachers
- Anima Mundi (1992), Reggio’s twenty-eight-minute montage of images of over seventy animal species, scored by Glass
- 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
- Television spots and an interview with Reggio relating to his 1970s multimedia privacy campaign in New Mexico
- Trailers
- PLUS: A booklet featuring essays on the trilogy by film scholar Scott MacDonald, Rockwell, and author and environmentalist Bill McKibben

AfterTheRain
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#2 Post by AfterTheRain » Mon Sep 22, 2008 3:59 am

Magic Hate Ball wrote:From the Something Awful forums...
ZackHoagie wrote:Godfrey Reggio was in LA for a showing of the trilogy over the weekend, and while I wasn't able to make the showing of Koyaanisqatsi, I was able to make the showing of Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi the night after. Reggio discussed the usage of fast motion and slow motion in liberal amounts in his films that night and announced that the films are being remastered (holy shit) into Blu-Ray (holy shit) by the Criterion Collection (HOLY SHIT). Did anybody here make the showings?
Anyone know anything about this?
This is all news to me. I've never even heard of these films before.

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MichaelB
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#3 Post by MichaelB » Mon Sep 22, 2008 4:53 am

AfterTheRain wrote:This is all news to me. I've never even heard of these films before.
You haven't even heard of Koyaanisqatsi? :shock: :shock: :shock:

Dr. Mabuse
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#4 Post by Dr. Mabuse » Mon Sep 22, 2008 5:06 am

Well read up, then...

The trilogy seems perfect for a blu-ray release. Here´s a short documentary about it: Part 1 - Part 2
Last edited by Dr. Mabuse on Mon Sep 22, 2008 6:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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skuhn8
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#5 Post by skuhn8 » Mon Sep 22, 2008 6:13 am

Hopefully some supplements regarding the scores, Philip Glass, et al. Didn't Dead Can Dance do some scoring for one of these? I have their box set and they include some video material from the trilogy with their music.

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domino harvey
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#6 Post by domino harvey » Mon Sep 22, 2008 6:22 am

If this is being announced, that must mean someone on the forum just bought the old DVDs

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colinr0380
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#7 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:47 am

I'm quite happy with my DVDs for now (they'll probably just port over the Reggio/Glass discussions from the first two films and the Soderbergh/Reggio, Glass/Yo-Yo Ma and panel discussion extra from Naqoyqatsi) but agree it would be great to show off in Hi-def (why do I have disturbing visions of walls of screens in TV stores all showing nature footage of a 'world out of balance' from the film? That would be the very definition of "self unaware", but gloriously self unaware!) I suppose it also makes sense for Criterion to tackle the films since there's the Coppola-producing link to the first film and the Soderbergh-producing connection to Naqoyqatsi, though the news would be most interesting, if true, to see that Criterion has licensed films on Blu-Ray from MGM and Miramax.

I wonder if they'll do Ron Fricke's Baraka as well - that's already coming out on Blu-Ray in Britain in the next few months from Second Sight.

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#8 Post by Scharphedin2 » Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:56 am

skuhn8 wrote:Hopefully some supplements regarding the scores, Philip Glass, et al. Didn't Dead Can Dance do some scoring for one of these? I have their box set and they include some video material from the trilogy with their music.
I could remember wrong, but was the film that Dead Can Dance contributed music to not Ron Fricke's Baraka? Or, maybe they also composed music for Reggio's films...?

In any event, this sounds like a very smart release on Criterion's part. The Quatsi trilogy is a real audio-visual treat. I can imagine that they will look amazing on Blu-ray.

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Darth Lavender
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#9 Post by Darth Lavender » Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:27 am

colinr0380 wrote:I'm quite happy with my DVDs for now (they'll probably just port over the Reggio/Glass discussions from the first two films and the Soderbergh/Reggio, Glass/Yo-Yo Ma and panel discussion extra from Naqoyqatsi) but agree it would be great to show off in Hi-def (why do I have disturbing visions of walls of screens in TV stores all showing nature footage of a 'world out of balance' from the film? That would be the very definition of "self unaware", but gloriously self unaware!) I suppose it also makes sense for Criterion to tackle the films since there's the Coppola-producing link to the first film and the Soderbergh-producing connection to Naqoyqatsi, though the news would be most interesting, if true, to see that Criterion has licensed films on Blu-Ray from MGM and Miramax.

I wonder if they'll do Ron Fricke's Baraka as well - that's already coming out on Blu-Ray in Britain in the next few months from Second Sight.
I think, in the case of the Qatsi movies, they are only distributed by MGM but owned by the film-makers, making it much easier for Criterion to get a distribution deal.

As for extras, remember Criterion's SD DVDs will have to compete with the (much, much cheaper) MGM DVDs, so that's incentive enough for a lot of quality extras.

Aspect ratio will be an interesting question, too. Ideally, we'd see the film presented in both 1.37:1 and 1.78:1 (given the length of each film, both encodes could easily fit onto a single blu-ray disk)

But, that depends on the mastering process. If Criterion uses 4K, then the open-matte version can be transferred, and then compressed to 2 different Blu-Ray encodes (one for each aspect ratio)

Regardless, I am very excited about this.

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Ashirg
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#10 Post by Ashirg » Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:40 am

colinr0380 wrote:I wonder if they'll do Ron Fricke's Baraka as well - that's already coming out on Blu-Ray in Britain in the next few months from Second Sight.
Baraka is coming on Blu-ray in October from MPI

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skuhn8
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#11 Post by skuhn8 » Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:41 am

Scharphedin2 wrote:
skuhn8 wrote:Hopefully some supplements regarding the scores, Philip Glass, et al. Didn't Dead Can Dance do some scoring for one of these? I have their box set and they include some video material from the trilogy with their music.
I could remember wrong, but was the film that Dead Can Dance contributed music to not Ron Fricke's Baraka? Or, maybe they also composed music for Reggio's films...?
#-o yup, I believe that's the one. Thanks!

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Cinephrenic
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#12 Post by Cinephrenic » Mon Sep 22, 2008 10:46 am

Holy shit indeed. Looks like 2009 will be the shit!

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dx23
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#13 Post by dx23 » Mon Sep 22, 2008 12:10 pm

domino harvey wrote:If this is being announced, that must mean someone on the forum just bought the old DVDs
It was me. I found Koyaanisqatsi in the Gamestop $1.99 bin last Saturday, so the financial hit wasn't big. I even got a 10% discount and 3 other dvds for free. You all can thank me later.

stalfyan
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#14 Post by stalfyan » Mon Sep 22, 2008 3:33 pm

this would be great news, these films are so excellent. not just the audio/video either, but the storytelling and themes as well.

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#15 Post by MichaelB » Mon Sep 22, 2008 3:48 pm

stalfyan wrote:this would be great news, these films are so excellent. not just the audio/video either, but the storytelling and themes as well.
#-o

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aox
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#16 Post by aox » Mon Sep 22, 2008 3:52 pm

yeah, the story was incredible; truly riveting. Best since 1929's Man with a Camera.

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#17 Post by fiddlesticks » Mon Sep 22, 2008 5:06 pm

For me, it's the dialogue. Not a single ill-chosen word, nor one more than necessary.

Seriously, though, I think a Blu-Ray of Koyaanisqatsi (at least) would be a great treat, if only for the stunning cinematography and the Philip Glass score.

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miless
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#18 Post by miless » Mon Sep 22, 2008 5:28 pm

not to mention that it would be the perfect demo disc for Blu-Ray players.

atcolomb
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#19 Post by atcolomb » Wed Sep 24, 2008 2:03 pm

I always thought the MGM version of Koyaanisqatsi was too soft of an image so a Blu-Ray release by Criterion is good news... :D
Last edited by atcolomb on Wed Sep 24, 2008 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#20 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Wed Sep 24, 2008 2:05 pm

miless wrote:not to mention that it would be the perfect demo disc for Blu-Ray players.
At last the Blu-ray generation's Tubular Bells/Dark side of the Moon

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zedz
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#21 Post by zedz » Wed Sep 24, 2008 6:12 pm

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
miless wrote:not to mention that it would be the perfect demo disc for Blu-Ray players.
At last the Blu-ray generation's Tubular Bells/Dark side of the Moon
Damn, I was going to make a rude comment a couple of days ago but held my tongue, all Pollyanna like.

(Unless you meant that as a compliment!)

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Oedipax
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#22 Post by Oedipax » Wed Sep 24, 2008 8:17 pm

The MGM Koyaanisqatsi was definitely soft, but the IRE open matte edition is a real glory to behold. I hope Criterion will stick with the open matte A.R. for their transfer.

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NABOB OF NOWHERE
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#23 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Thu Sep 25, 2008 11:24 am

zedz wrote:
NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
miless wrote:not to mention that it would be the perfect demo disc for Blu-Ray players.
At last the Blu-ray generation's Tubular Bells/Dark side of the Moon
Damn, I was going to make a rude comment a couple of days ago but held my tongue, all Pollyanna like.

(Unless you meant that as a compliment!)
Feel free to add corruscating venomous bile at will.
I remember being sweet talked into a Home Entertainment package at Laserdisc stage and ended up to my lasting embarassment being featured in a trade mag as a Happy Client clutching a copy of the test disc. Yes, you guessed it...Terminator 2.

Try as I may I can't come up with the dvd equivalent of all these 'hey come over to my house and catch a load of this' gems.

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Svevan
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#24 Post by Svevan » Fri Sep 26, 2008 2:50 pm

The Naqoyqatsi DVD is weirdly warped, as if the 1.33:1 image has been stretched to fit a 1.78 or 1.85 aspect ratio. I read online, when the DVD came out, that this was "deliberate," but I've always doubted that. The question of aspect ratio on the other two is, I think, settled at 1.33 (un-matted). I don't think we need both aspects on the DVD.

Also, the Reggio/Glass 30 minute short Anima Mundi has been out of print for years, and though it's easy to pick up a used copy, it would be a perfect supplement making a KILLER box set. The film was made in between Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi, and uses Reggio's distinct montage, context-less filmmaking style. Plus, it's about animals instead of humans, making it a perfect counterpart to the gloomy Qatsi trilogy. Anima Mundi is also the source for some very recognizable Glass music, as two pieces from the movie were re-used later in The Truman Show (which also "featured," or stole, the opening piece from Mishima to use for its ending). You can view all of Anima Mundi on YouTube, starting here.

Reggio also made an 8 minute short called Evidence that I think is kinda silly, but since it uses Philip Glass' "Facades" from Glassworks, it wouldn't be a bad supplement (for completion's sake). You can view the entire thing here.

And finally, on the Naqoyqatsi DVD (or maybe the Koyaanis one, can't remember), Reggio mentions some McLuhan-esque commercials he made in the 60s or 70s that were highly symbolized representations of viewers experiencing media, intended to startle people as they're watching TV. They show a clip from one, maybe in its entirety; if they're able to be tracked down they would make this hypothetical boxset into, essentially, the entire life's work of Godfrey Reggio.

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Kirkinson
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#25 Post by Kirkinson » Fri Sep 26, 2008 11:22 pm

Svevan wrote:The Naqoyqatsi DVD is weirdly warped, as if the 1.33:1 image has been stretched to fit a 1.78 or 1.85 aspect ratio. I read online, when the DVD came out, that this was "deliberate," but I've always doubted that. The question of aspect ratio on the other two is, I think, settled at 1.33 (un-matted). I don't think we need both aspects on the DVD.
For what it's worth, Naqoyqatsi on DVD looks precisely the same as I remember it from its brief theatrical run (and the trailer, which I watched over and over again while I waited for the film to finally be released). It's not the whole DVD that's warped, just specific pieces of footage that they deliberately warped for aesthetic effect.

And I think the question for the other two is only settled insofar as the films were framed so that overall they would look equally appropriate both matted for theatres and unmatted for television. I think the absolute best choice would be to include both versions. After watching it both ways, I'd have to say the ratio choices are inconsistent: there are many shots that definitely look better unmatted, many that definitely look better matted, and many that I feel work equally well either way. Not that I would really be dissatisfied if they went with one or the other.

And I would absolutely love to have some of those IRE commercials as supplements. The clips they show during the Reggio interview on MGM's Koyaanisqatsi are quite striking. Anima Mundi would be great, too - I've held off looking into the old DVD because I've read nothing but terrible things about the transfer.

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