An art-house circuit sensation, this feature-length documentary is visually arresting and possesses a clear, pro-environmental political agenda.
Without a story, dialogue, or characters, Koyaanisqatsi (1983) (the film's title is a Hopi word roughly translated into English as life out of balance) is composed of nature imagery, manipulated in slow motion, double exposure or time lapse, juxtaposed with footage of humans' devastating environmental impact on the planet.
Starting with an ancient rock wall painting, the film moves through sequences depicting clouds, waves, and other natural features, then into man-made landscapes such as buildings, earth-altering construction machinery, and cars.
The message of director Godfrey Reggio is clear: humans are destroying the planet, and all of human progress is pointlessly foolish. Also notable for its intense, atmospheric score by new age composer Philip Glass, Koyaanisqatsi (1983) was a labor of love for Reggio, who spent several years filming it.
The film was followed by sequels, Powaqqatsi (1988), Anima Mundi (1991) and Naqoyqatsi (1999).