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3.3 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Miramax Home Entertainment and Oscar(R)-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh (Best Director, TRAFFIC, 2000) present NAQOYQATSI ("Life As War"), from filmmaker Godfrey Reggio, in collaboration with composer Phillip Glass, whose original score features renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma. In this cinematic concert -- the concluding film of the Qatsi Trilogy preceded by the critically acclaimed KOYAANISQATSI ("Life Out Of Balance"), and POWAQQATSI ("Life In Transformation") -- mesmerizing images reanimated from everyday reality, then visually altered with state-of-the-art digital techniques, chronicle the shift from a world organized by the principles of nature to one dominated by technology, the synthetic, and the virtual. Extremes of intimacy and spectacle, tragedy and hope, fuse in a tidal wave of visuals and music, giving rise to a unique artistic experience that reflects Reggio's visions of a brave new globalized world.


Whether your intellect is completely engaged or passively detached, any viewing of Naqoyqatsi is likely to provoke a fascinating response. You can view it as a magnificent, visually stimulating music video (as critic Roger Ebert suggested you should), or in context as the third and most unsettling film in director Godfrey Reggio's "qatsi" trilogy, each titled from the Hopi language, and preceded by Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi ("Life out of Balance" and "Life in Transformation," respectively). "Life as War" is the translation of this film's title, and Reggio's theme is not one of conventional warfare, but of daily life as warfare in the age of rapidly evolving technology. The entire trilogy views humankind as a blight on the pristine nature of Earth, but here the theme is taken to its inevitable extreme: a constant flow of new and archival images--manipulated with solarization, digital enhancements, thermal effects, 2-D and 3-D animation, etc.--combine to convey athletic and military regimentation, culminating in the doomsday flowering of missiles, rockets, and all varieties of nuclear weaponry. The cumulative effect, when combined with Philip Glass's mesmerizing score (his best of the trilogy, with cello solos by Yo-Yo Ma) is one of doom-laden portent, but, as Stephen Holden observed in the New York Times, the film is also arrestingly beautiful as it weaves its hypnotic, apocalyptic spell. For those who wish to delve further, Reggio, Glass, and editor/visual designer Jon Kane provide valuable insight in a bonus panel discussion. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • "Life is War"
  • "Music of Naqoyqatsi: a conversation with Philip Glass and Yo-Yo Ma
  • NYU panel discussion
  • Trailers

Product Details

  • Actors: Marlon Brando, Elton John, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Madonna, Bhagwan Mirchandani
  • Directors: Godfrey Reggio
  • Writers: Godfrey Reggio
  • Producers: Godfrey Reggio, Federico Negri, Joe Beirne, Lauren Feeney, Lawrence Taub
  • Format: Anamorphic, Animated, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 4.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Miramax
  • DVD Release Date: October 14, 2003
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JLIA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,110 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Naqoyqatsi" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The first two films of the Qatsi trilogy were made up of organic images accompanied by the music of Philip Glass. Astonishing achievements, they are, mostly because of this. The use of "found" images to tell a story - without dialog or a three-act screenplay - is quite an accomplishment.
So, in the third installment, what was left to achieve? The opposite: to tell a story with synthetic images, but also without reliance on dialog, characters, or formal dramatic structure. A purely abstract film, in other words, where every image could be controlled precisely. The result is Godfrey Reggio's Naqoyqatsi, which, in my opinion, is not quite abstract enough.
When relying on "real" images (i.e., representational) exclusively, you have to find metaphors and make connections indirectly. Koyaanisqatsi's most powerful example of this is a shot toward the end where we see an elderly person's hand emerge from an endless row of hospital beds seen obliquely so that they are nothing more than diagonal lines of metal and plastic. It's a haunting moment - humanity reaching out from the suffocating cocoon of technology it has woven about itself; reaching out for contact with something real.
But the computer-enhanced (and often computer generated) work in Naqoyqatsi goes for the obvious most of the time. Instead of oblique metaphors, we get transliterations: actual ones and zeros flying around the screen to represent information overload; corporate logos in 3-D zooming at us to tell us how pervasive they are - complete with the obvious Cheap Shot at Corporate Greed: the dreaded Enron logo; dollar signs raining on stock traders at the NYSE. And so on.
It's mostly clumsy.
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Format: DVD
Okay. I saw this movie in November of last year, and even had the good fortune to meet Mr. reggio himself (I told him to watch "Dancer in the Dark", he said he loved Von Trier and I almost collapsed right there). Anyway, the movie. Of all the opening scenes in the history of cinema, I'd say the opening scene of "Naqoyqatsi" ranks in the top ten most beautiful of all time. The first image you see is an MRI image (made 3-D) of "The Tower of Babel", a painting by a famous Italian painter. It zooms in to show the incredible detail of the painting as the quite frankly INSANE music playing starts building up. Then begins a flawless, completely fluid transition from this amazing image to one even more amazing and, in my opinion, the most powerful in the film - the countless broken windows of an abandoned white building in Detroit. Now, when I saw this the first time, I had no idea where this building was or what type of building it was (someone here said it was a railroad station, though it looked to me like an apartment building). I believe the POINT is the anonymity, or better yet, the universality of the destruction and decay present in this image. It could be anywhere in the world. As Yo-Yo Ma's cello strikes out some of the most unforgettable music you'll ever hear, the camera sweeps to show the face of the ruined building in its entirety and believe me, it's one of the most haunting and beautiful images in the history of film. That's the BEGINNING of this movie! For the next 90 minutes, you're shown a panoply of images that define our times in all their confusion and strife, and all I can say is you probably won't get them out of your head for at least a week after seeing it. How can people call this a disappointment?Read more ›
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I just saw a preview screening of this in NYC tonight. It incoperates the same techniques of the previous films in the series (Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi) which although may seem unconventional or strange in comparison to what we see see these days, is altogether enjoyable. In my opinion the visual narrative fails this time around but the soundtrack absolutely surpasses the others due to the contribution of Yo Yo Ma and another unflawed outing from the masterful Philip Glass. Naqoyqatsi intends to muse on our planet's war culture but get often mixed up with an ulterior commentary on technology (Although what I saw may not have been a final cut). Still worth seeing if you can find it come October. Also glad to see that the 3 will be making to DVD- a tremendous thank-you to those responsible for that!
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Format: DVD
I bought the Naqoyqatsi DVD yesterday and have watched it two times since. My first impression was that this third in the Qatsi Trilogy was a lot like the first film only more hectic. I watched it a second time and it seemed a lot slower and not just a jumble of flashy digital images. On first viewing, I found the ending a bit disappointing but on the second viewing I was allowed to look more into the images. The film is great piece of art but still isn't as coheisive as Koyaanisqatsi. The music is probably what holds Naqoyqatsi together so well. The marriage of image and music is perfect.
The DVD has a extremely short clip of Steven Soderburg and Godfrey Reggio talking about the film which isn't all that important. There is a conversation with Yo-yo Ma and Phillip Glass which is nice to have on the DVD but really doesn't give that much insight on the movie. Probably the best extra of the DVD is the NYU Panel Discussion with Godfrey Reggio, Phillip Glass, and Visual Designer Jon Kane.
Some could call this just one long MTV video but I think it holds more substance than that. The message of the film could definitely be different for everyone but, I find that the message of the movie is that life is a stuggle, a struggle against technology, society, religion, and the future. Personally this is my second favorite "qatsi" film, second only to the first film. This is a great conclusion to a wonderful trilogy and should not be missed by fans of the Qatsi trilogy.
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