Naqoyqatsi

In part 3 of Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass’s Qatsi trilogy, we see life at war as politicians, religious symbols, money, power and computers vie against each other through digital imagery.

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Not as focused as its precursors, 2002’s Naqoyqatsi covers many different aspects of society through its footage and graphics. Money flies, celebrities smile, computers process and corporate logos twirl. There’s even a brief yet prophetic appearance from Donald Trump.

But it never achieves the level of beauty of Koyaanisqatsi or Powaqqatsi, and not just because Trump is in it. While the first two films painstakingly shot stunning new images at real locations around the world, Naqoyqatsi appears to be mostly stock footage, when showing things like politicians, athletes and nuclear explosions; and computer imagery for the more nebulous concepts.

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This is certainly a deliberate choice, continuing the theme of technology replacing nature, but one that results in a less aesthetically pleasing film. Glass’s score returns to the more conventional Western soundscape of the first film, but is less imposing and more varied, including a beautiful cello piece in the final act. Thematically and tonally it feels like more of a sequel to Koyaanisqatsi, as opposed to the more optimistic Powaqqatsi.

Influenced by the 9/11 terror attacks taking place near the production building, it’s notably darker in tone and has far more of a focus on the developed world. While this isn’t because of bias on the film’s part (it’s highly critical of the West) it marks an end to the trilogy’s admirable representation of diverse lives and indigenous cultures around the world.

The result is another thought-provoking and intriguing film, but one that no longer feels ground-breaking, and is showing signs of diminishing returns.

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