Naqoyqatsi Released on DVD!

It comes out tomorrow, almost a year since it appeared in theaters. Love this film, and got an e-mail from Amazon saying it’s on the way (which means I’ll get it next week). A previous thread which includes detailed discussion of the film (and links to threads about it and the other films in the Qatsi Trilogy) can be found here.

w00t! I am so there!

BTW … a question about Koyaanisqatsi. I contributed and got the DVD of the movie while they were doing the push to get it released on DVD. Now that it’s out, is the “official” DVD any different from the one they were giving out for contributing?

Yup! For one thing, it’s letter boxed, the film to video transfer is simply the best I have ever seen, and there’s interviews with Reggio and Glass (I wouldn’t show those to anyone who hasn’t seen the film as of yet, they’re kind of spoilers, IMHO). There’s also a short clip of a rather bizarre PSA that Reggio did back in the 1970s (sadly, it’s a prophetic one). It’s worth the $20 to get it, IMHO.

Well, color me slightly disappointed with the DVD (which arrived yesterday). The film to video transfer is just as good as the other films, however, the special features kind of suck. They have “Life as War” which are brief clips of Steven Soderbergh and Godfrey Reggio talking about the film. Soderbergh comes off as rather pretentious, IMHO. There’s “Music of Naqoyqatsi” which is just Philip Glass and Yo-Yo Ma having a mutual masterbation session. A NYU Panel Discussion (haven’t watched it, can’t comment), trailers for the other two films (IIRC, their DVD’s have all three trailers on them) and a commercial for the soundtrack. On the previous two DVD’s they had fewer special features (only the trailers, interviews with Glass and Reggio, and clips of Reggio’s other work), but they were more interesting than the special features on this one. (I also note that it took twenty freakin’ years to complete the trilogy!) Oh, and the disk has one thing which I don’t understand. Apparently, there’s a French subtitle track.

Thanks for the heads up. I didn’t even know that there was a third one!

One of my young friends saw Koyaanisqatsi in New Orleans with Phillip Glass conducting the music live. Has he done this with any of the other movies in the trilogy that you know of?

Nope. And you’ll kick yourself for missing it (Naqoyqatsi) on the big screen since it played in Nashvegas back in Feb.

Have they released a good version of Koy on DVD? Last I heard the one that’s out is fake-letterboxed. The image cropped at top and bottom, in effect deleting part of the image.

It doesn’t look fake to me. The film to video transfer is vastly superior to the $200 version I bought. Here’s a thread on the Koyaanisqatsi DVD that explains things to a degree.

Speaking of video transfers, what’s up with the squashed picture on Naqoyqatsi? Was it like this in the theater? I doubt it. The distortion is most obvious in shots of people, faces and full figures. And if that doesn’t convince you, notice that all the circular shapes (the sun, logos, wheels, gears, ect) are now squashed horizontal ellipses.

It looks like somebody thought that DVD buyers expect black bars at the top and bottom of the screen and compressing the image this way would achieve it while not cropping the picture. The aspect ratio of some films does not require much letterboxing to bring the sides into the television frame.

It’s seems weird that that the people involved in making this film didn’t notice or care about this. Wouldn’t Godfrey Reggio or Steven Soderbergh or somebody at Miramax have the final sayso in the quality of the release of their movie on DVD, where the majority of people who will see it?

I was dissapointed in Naq. It looks like a demo reel for someone looking for work making television commercials. The “Life as War” idea offered fertile ground for social comment. I just didn’t see it in the film.

Best parts where the spiral down through the paisley patterns and the eerie slo-mo of the crash-test dummies in the airplane. But ultimately thats’ all I got from it it - cool looking pictures.

The music is good. I’ve always liked the score from Koyaanisqatsi, and that’s basically what is here, with minor variations. And Yo Yo Ma.

So, for me, the experience boils down to watching cool new pictures while listening to the score from a favorite old film. Certainly nowhere near the emotional experience of actually watching Koyqaanisqatsi. Reggio shoulda’ quit while he was ahead.

Que? I’m not seeing it at all. Sure, there’s lots of effects on the images but if you read the thread I wrote immediately after seeing the film in the theater, you’ll see that only a few minutes of the film haven’t been retouched by computer. Here you can listen to Reggio’s comments in an NPR interview about making the film and the work they did. Considering the trouble Reggio had to go through to get the films released on DVD (numerous lawsuits), I don’t think that he’d settle for a faux letterbox version like you’re suggesting he has.

Well. maybe it’s my TV or DVD player, but nothing else looks horizontally squeezed so…

Do me a favor. Go to Scene Selection - 9. Point Blank. Do the Michaelangelo Man-in-Circle, the Yin-Yang symbol, the Circle A logo, the Circle with Star, the Peace symbol and the @ Sign look like perfectly round circles on your screen, or are they squashed horizontally into oval shapes? Also check the gear at 1:07:20. Is it round, or elliptical?


Okay, I checked the scenes that you mentioned and here’s what I found. There is a slight squashiness to them, unnoticeable unless I really, really, reallly look for it. However, I’ve been watching the disk on my PC, which automatically crops out the letterbox bars. When I resize the window so that the bars do appear, then the squashiness becomes more distinct. In the case of the gears, I think that a signifcant portion of the squashiness, however, is an optical illusion caused by some of the other effects used in the shot. So what this all means, I dunno. I have a slightly better than average Joe understanding of film techniques, but not enough to say exactly what’s going on here.

If only I was more impressed by Koyaanisqatsi.

I saw it theatrically in 1983. Loved it.

I have since seen the '50s Disney documentary that it stole from. Even to the point of Glass lifting the thematic elements of Grofè’s score of the Grand Canyon Suite.

On the other hand my brother has both DVDs at his house and we get to watch them and giggle. Beats SNL most times…


I did a quick Google and it was actually 1961 for Disney’s release of Grand Canyon. My mistake.

And I was right the first time. It was 1958 for Grand Canyon. Go figure.