Life out of Balance

January 18, 2008 | By | 4 Replies More

You know that life is out of balance.

If you are looking for a provocative film that allows you to feel this problem, I have a classic video to recommend.  I just saw it tonight for the first time: Koyaanisqatsi. The 1982 film was directed by Godfrey Reggio.  Ron Fricke provided the memorable cinematography and Philip Glass provided the haunting music.

In a documentary that accompanies the current version of the DVD, Reggio explains:

[T]hese films have never been about the effect of technology, of industry on people. It’s been that everyone: politics, education, things of the financial structure, the nation state structure, language, the culture, religion, all of that exists within the host of technology. So it’s not the effect of it’s that everything exists within [technology]. It’s not that we use technology, we live technology. Technology has become as ubiquitous as the air we breathe.

The title of the film comes from the Hopi language. At the end of the film, Reggio provided a multi-part definition based on the Hopi etymology: 

1. crazy life; 2. life in turmoil; 3. life out of balance; 4. life disintegrating; 5. a state of life that calls for a different way of living.



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Category: American Culture, Environment, Technology, Videos

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (4)

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  1. Kevin Morgan says:

    Koyaanisqatsi was a very good film. I first saw it back in the 80's with a group of friends at a party. It was on in the background and caught my attention. I would like to recommend (highly) that you check out Baraka. I think it was even better.

  2. I highly recommend the movie as well. The high speed film effects were brand new and mesmerizing at the time. Unfortunately they don't impress as much today because the style has been used and abused over the years. However, Philip Glass' music is still powerful and I think that the underlying message of the film may have even more relevance than it did in the 80's.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    I also saw this movie in the '80s, and often remember it on the rare occasions I go to a large shopping mall or see a Space Shuttle launch. It's definitely worth seeing.

    BTW, there are now two sequels that use similar cinematography techniques, but address different subjects; namely, life in transition and life as war. The latter (Naqoyqatsi) is very poignant in the current environment of America's so-called "war on terror." I'd hesitate to recommend them all, however, because I found the sequels rather tedious to watch after seeing the first one. They do raise important subjects, though.

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    This entire movie (Koyaanisqatsi) is now available to watch, for free, online. Here's the address:

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