Life Out of Balance


Directed by Godfrey Reggio
Music by Philip Glass

Ko.yaa.nis.qatsi (from the Hopi language), n. 1. Crazy life. 2. Life in turmoil. 3. Life disintegrating. 4. Life out of balance. 5. A state of life that calls for another way of living.

Koyaanisqatsi, Reggio’s debut as a film director and producer, is the first film of the QATSI trilogy. The title is a Hopi Indian word meaning “life out of balance.” Created between 1975 and 1982, the film is an apocalyptic vision of the collision of two different worlds — urban life and technology versus the environment. The musical score was composed by Philip Glass.

Koyaanisqatsi attempts to reveal the beauty of the beast! We usually perceive our world, our way of living, as beautiful because there is nothing else to perceive. If one lives in this world, the globalized world of high technology, all one can see is one layer of commodity piled upon another. In our world the “original” is the proliferation of the standardized. Copies are copies of copies. There seems to be no ability to see beyond, to see that we have encased ourselves in an artificial environment that has remarkably replaced the original, nature itself. We do not live with nature any longer; we live above it, off of it as it were. Nature has become the resource to keep this artificial or new nature alive.

That being said, my intention in-other-words, let me describe the bigger picture. Koyaanisqatsi is not so much about something, nor does it have a specific meaning or value. Koyaanisqatsi is, after all, an animated object, an object in moving time, the meaning of which is up to the viewer. Art has no intrinsic meaning. This is its power, its mystery, and hence, its attraction. Art is free. It stimulates the viewer to insert their own meaning, their own value. So while I might have this or that intention in creating this film, I realize fully that any meaning or value Koyaanisqatsi might have comes exclusively from the beholder. The film’s role is to provoke, to raise questions that only the audience can answer. This is the highest value of any work of art, not predetermined meaning, but meaning gleaned from the experience of the encounter. The encounter is my interest, not the meaning. If meaning is the point, then propaganda and advertising is the form. So in the sense of art, the meaning of Koyaanisqatsi is whatever you wish to make of it.

This is its power.

Produced & Directed by Godfrey Reggio.
Director of Photography: Ron Fricke. Music: Philip Glass.
Philip Glass Music: Produced & Recorded by Kurt Munkacsi.
Conducted by Michael Riesman.
Music Director & Additional Music: Michael Hoenig. Editors: Alton Walpole, Ron Fricke.
Concept: Godfrey Reggio.
Dramaturge: Walter Bachauer. Scenario: Ron Fricke, Godfrey Reggio, Michael Hoenig.
Creative Consultant: Bradford Smith.
Associate Producers: Lawrence Taub, T. Michael Powers, Alton Walpole, Roger McNew, Mel Lawrence,
IRE Coordinator: Stephen Goldin.
Audio & Electronic Engineering: Michael Stocker.
Music & Effects Editor: David Rivas.
Re-Recording Mixer: Steve Maslow, C.A.S.
Camera Assistants: Robert Hill, David Brownlow, Roger McNew, Neil Bockman.
Associate Editor: Anne Miller.
Assistant Editors: Robert Hill, Tove Johnson, Susan Marcinkus.
Distribution Research: Ronald P. Gold.
Director of Distribution & Promotion: Mel Lawrence.
Additional Cinematography: Hillary Harris, Louis Schwarzberg, MacGillivray-Freeman.
Associate Cinematographer: Christine Gibson. Solo Organ: Michael Riesman.
Vocals: Western Wind Ensemble, Albert Du Ruiter-Solo Bass.
Tibetan Bells: Nancy Hennings, Henry Wolff. Hopi Prophecy
Consultants: Thomas F. Tarbet, Dr. Ekkehart Malotki, Michael Lowatewama, James Kootshongsie, Dennis Kootshongsie, John Kimmey. Editing Consultant: Dennis Jakob.
Music Consultants: Marcia Mikulak, Walter Bachauer.
Optical Consultant: Thomas Edmon.
Dolby Consultant: David W. Gray.
Title Design: Paul Pascarella.
Linguistic Research on Title: Dr. Ekkehart Malotki Michael Lowatewama.
Optical Effects: Gamma Research.
Titles & Optics: Pacific Title. Processing by: TVC Labs.
Prints by: Deluxe. Timers: Bob Hagans, Matvey Shatz.
Music Re-Recorded at Goldwyn Sound Facility.
Inspiration & Ideas: Jacques Ellul, Ivan Illich, David Monongye, Guy DeBord, Leopold Kohr.
Presented by Francis Ford Coppola.


imageDVD VHS




Koyaanisqatsi on Nonesuch
Koyaanisqatsi on Antilles
Philip on Film on Nonesuch
Philip Glass Ensemble Live in Monterrey, Mexico on Orange Mountain Music
[masYmas] Koyaanisqatsi on Club Tools
Three Songs / Songs from Liquid Days / Vessels on Silva Classics


Powaqqatsi by Godfrey Reggio
Naqoyqatsi by Godfrey Redgio