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Powaqqatsi [VHS]

46 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Christie Brinkley, David Brinkley, Pope John Paul II, Dan Rather, Cheryl Tiegs
  • Directors: Godfrey Reggio
  • Writers: Godfrey Reggio, Ken Richards
  • Producers: Godfrey Reggio, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Lawrence Taub, Mandeep Kakkar
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: First Look Home Ente
  • VHS Release Date: August 1, 1990
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301708555
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,967 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Powaqqatsi, or "life in transformation," is the second part of a projected trilogy of experimental documentaries whose titles derive from Hopi compound nouns. The now legendary Koyaanisqatsi, or "life out of balance," was the first. Naqoyqatsi, or "life in war," once it obtains funding, will be the third. Powaqqatsi finds director Godfrey Reggio somewhat more directly polemical than before, and his major collaborator, the composer Philip Glass, stretching to embrace world music.

Reggio reuses techniques familiar from the previous film (slow motion, time-lapse, superposition) to dramatize the effects of the so-called First World on the Third: displacement, pollution, alienation. But he spends as much time beautifully depicting what various cultures have lost--cooperative living, a sense of joy in labor, and religious values--as he does confronting viewers with trains, airliners, coal cars, and loneliness. What had been a more or less peaceful, slow-moving, spiritually fulfilling rural existence for these "silent" people (all we hear is music and sound effects) becomes a crowded, suffocating, accelerating industrial urban hell, from Peru to Pakistan. Reggio frames Powaqqatsi with a telling image: the Serra Pelada gold mines, where thousands of men, their clothes and skin imbued with the earth they're moving, carry wet bags up steep slopes in a Sisyphean effort to provide wealth for their employers. While Glass juxtaposes his strangely joyful music, which includes the voices of South American children, a number of these men carry one of their exhausted comrades out of the pit, his head back and arms outstretched--one more sacrifice to Caesar. Nevertheless, Reggio, a former member of the Christian Brothers, seems to maintain hope for renewal. --Robert Burns Neveldine

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
When I first watched this film last night, I was rather disappointed. It was different in a BIG way from "Koyaanisqatsi". I then went to sleep going over the images that I saw in this film as I slept. The next morning, I had myself set down to watch it again. I learned this time, that my perspective was all wrong. I thought, probably just like everybody else, that this second installment of the "qatsi" trilogy was suppose to be more of what we saw in "Koyaanisqatsi." We shouldn't think this way at all. Don't connect these two films as if they have to be watched as one before the other. They ARE two separate projects with two separate ideas to be viewed with the mind's eye. You don't need to see "Koyaanisqatsi" first in order to understand Godfrey's next film "Powwaqatsi".

"Powaqqatsi" is a masterful piece of work addressing a cold and/or warm view of several third world countries. Godfrey Reggio gave us this visual exactly as we should see it. Maybe it wasn't as FUN to watch as "Koyaaniqatsi", but, I really don't think Reggio is trying to entertain us, as much as he is trying to inform us about our world without the use of words. Which, in itself, is an act of genius. To tell us what he is showing us, would present it all as "some guy's opinion" which could arouse doubt and argument. He gave us the world in a way that allows us to say what we see and can form our own opinion of what we see. This allows everyone to walk away from this film with a different perspective than somebody sitting right beside them watching it.

This film is definitely very colorful. There is beauty in the devastation. Plus there is unpleasant discourse in what seems to present a sense of order.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By FrontPage on September 9, 2003
Format: DVD
Powaqqatsi (1988) is the second DVD in the Qatsi trilogy, an I suggest that you consider watching this release second. The first to view is Koyaanisqatsi (1983); the third, Naqoyqatsi (2002). With the filming of the trilogy taking over 20 years to complete, the advances in the music, technology and filming makes me suggest that you start from the beginning to watch how things have changed in that time.
POWA (Powaqqatsi) focuses on life for people mainly in the southern hemisphere. Please also view my review of KOYA (Koyaanisqatsi), which I will complete shortly after submitting this. I plan to soon purchase NAQO (Naqoyqatsi) and will review that as well (obviously I found the film concept entertaining).
KOYA focuses on the northern hemisphere's lifestyles of living with technology in all aspecfts of their lives while POWA shows life that is more driven by manual labor. Yet as the movie progresses, you see more and more hints of the introduction of technology, which will inevitably wind up permeating and consuming the current culture. Watch for the placement of a SEIKO billboard, which really stuck in my mind.
It can be difficult not to feel some sense of pain for the people's lifestyles, but please stay open- minded to an understanding that perhaps the lifestyle that DP's Graham Berry and Leonidas Zourdoumis documented is what the subjects being filmed are most comfortable with. Watching POWA first, however, may take the whole trilogy out of order and context for you. That's why I suggest that you purchase the two- DVD set. And I'm sure that plans have been in the works to release the trilogy as a boxed set.
Make certain also to watch director Godfrey Reggio's comments (highlighted with composer Philip Glass).
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Video is no way to see Powaqqatsi or Koyaanisqatsi, seeing it on the big screen is the only way to capture Reggio's brilliant work. But if it is your only option, don't pass it up. I never imagined Reggio could follow up Koyaanisqatsi with such a gem...it gives me hope the third movie in the trilogy, Naqoyqatsi, will be as brilliant. Powaqqatsi shocks you out of the comfort of your safe middle class (or better) existence and reminds you that we are very much in the minority with our creature comforts. Yet, despite the haunting images and the curious juxtaposition of the Glass music, the film leaves you with courage that the human animal can rise above the harsh realities of the current state of our economically segregated world. These two movies changed my life. If you ever get a chance to see Glass perform the sound track live while he shows either move, don't miss it at any price. Now, where can I get my copy?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 13, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Powaqqatsi took me out of my safe, clean, technological "First World" existence into the empoverished, exploited, and sad reality that is the third world. But I found it to be a very good film. And any fan of Philip Glass' music would not want to miss it. For that reason alone I thoroughly enjoyed Powaqqatsi. The vivid images of people being used as pack animals in the opening sequence were disturbing, perhaps more so by the incongruently joyful music during those scenes. Thereafter the movie alternated between the themes of poverty, religion, exploitation, and innocence, all to the music of one of our most original and creative composers. Actually, Philip Glass' score was strongly influenced by Near- and Far-Eastern Asian music (with heavy sampling according to the soundtrack notes), as well as South American rhythms. Most sequences (like the train) were definitely Glassian. The movie itself suffered a little from a lack of a unified and flowing theme, such as was obvious in Reggio's first and by far the best 'Qatsi film, Koyaanisqatsi. These reflections are fading, as it has been about seven years since I saw Powaqqatsi in the theater. I am looking forward to the video's re-release.
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