Koyaanisqatsi -  Koyaanisqatsi also known as Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance, is a 1982 film directed by Godfrey Reggio with music composed by Philip Glass and cinematography by Ron Fricke.
The film consists primarily of slow motion and time-lapse footage of cities and many natural landscapes across the United States. The visual tone poem contains neither dialogue nor a vocalized narration: its tone is set by the juxtaposition of images and music. Reggio explains the lack of dialogue by stating "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." In the Hopi language, the word Koyaanisqatsi means "unbalanced life". The film is the first in the Qatsi trilogy of films: it is followed by Powaqqatsi (1988) and Naqoyqatsi (2002). The trilogy depicts different aspects of the relationship between humans, nature, and technology. Koyaanisqatsi is the best known of the trilogy and is considered a cult film. However, because of copyright issues, the film was out of print for most of the 1990s.
Synopsis The first image in the film is of a pictogram. The section shown depicts several tall darkly-shadowed figures standing near a taller figure adorned with a crown. The next image is a close-up of a rocket during liftoff. The film fades into a shot of a desolate desert landscape. From there, it progresses to footage of various natural environmental phenomena such as waves and clouds.
The film's introduction to human involvement in the environment is a low aerial shot of choppy water, cutting to a similar shot of rows of cultivated flowers. After aerial views of monumental rock formations partly drowned by a lake, we see a large mining truck causing billows of black dust. This is followed by shots of power lines in the desert. Man's continued involvement in the environment is depicted through images of mining operations, oil fields, a power plant, a dam, and atomic bomb detonations in a desert. Following the atomic bomb detonations, the next sequence begins with a shot of sunbathers on a beach, then pans to a power plant in the background. Shots of traffic patterns are seen during rush hour on a freeway and a shot of a large parking lot. This is followed with stock footage of Soviet tanks lined up in rows and a military aircraft, and a aircraft carrier.
Time-lapse photography of shadows of clouds are seen moving across the skyscrapers. Shots of various housing projects in disrepair, and includes footage of the decay and demolition of a housing project. The sequence ends with footage of the destruction of large buildings. A time-lapse shot of a crowd of people who appear to be waiting in a line. This is followed by shots of people walking along streets in slow motion.
The next sequence begins with shots of buildings and a shot of a sunset reflected in the glass of a skyscraper. The sequence uses time-lapse photography of the activity of modern life. The events captured in this sequence involve people interacting with modern technology. The first shots are traffic patterns as seen from skyscrapers at night. This is followed by a shot of the moon passing behind a skyscraper. The next shots are closer shots of cars on a highway. The sun rises over the city and we see people hurrying to work. The film shows at regular speed the operation of machines packaging food. People are shown sorting mail, sewing jeans, manufacturing televisions and doing other jobs with the use of modern technology. A shot of hot dogs being sent down rows of conveyors is followed by a shot of people moving up escalators. The frenetic speed and pace of the cuts and background music do not slow as shots of modern leisure are shown. People eat, play, shop and work at the same speed. The sequence begins to come full circle as the manufacturing of automobiles in an assembly line factory is shown.
More shots of highway traffic are shown, this time in daylight. The film shows the movement of cars, shopping carts, and televisions on an assembly line, and elevators moving from first person perspective. The film then shows clips from various television shows being channel surfed in fast motion. The film, in slow motion, then shows several people reacting to being candidly filmed on the street. The camera stays on them until the moment when they acknowledge its presence by looking directly at it. The sequence then shows cars moving much faster than they were moving before.
Pictures of microchips and satellite photography of metropolitan cities are shown, making a comparison between their layouts. Various shots of people are seen from all walks of modern life, from beggars to debutantes. The final sequence shows footage of a Saturn V rocket lifting off, followed by footage of the May 1962 explosion of an Atlas-Centaur rocket. Here, the camera follows a flaming rocket engine and a white vapor trail or smoke against a blue sky as the rocket plummets to earth. The film ends with another shot of the pictogram.
Production - Background
In 1972, Godfrey Reggio, of the Institute for Regional Education, or IRE, was working on a media campaign in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which was sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The campaign involved invasions of privacy and the use of technology to control behavior. As opposed to creating public service announcements, which Reggio felt "had no visibility," advertising spots were purchased for television, radio, newspapers, and billboards. Over 30 billboards were used for the campaign, and one design featured a close-up of the human eye, which Godfrey described as a "horrifying image." To produce the television commercials, the IRE hired cinematographer Ron Fricke who worked on the project for two years. The television ads aired during prime time programming and became so popular that viewers would call the television stations to learn when the next advertisement would be aired. Godfrey described the two year campaign as "extraordinarily successful," and as a result, Ritalin (methylphenidate) was eliminated as a behavior-modifying drug in many New Mexico school districts. But after the campaign ended, the ACLU eventually withdrew its sponsorship, and the IRE unsuccessfully attempted to raise millions of dollars at a fundraiser in Washington, D.C. The institute only had $40,000 left in their budget, and Reggio was unsure how to use the small amount of funds. Fricke insisted to Reggio that the money could be used to produce a film, which led to the production of Koyaanisqatsi.
Koyaanisqatsi - The Grid 
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