Beyond words and beyond a goal or destination, this visual and auditory adventure directed by Godfrey Reggio opens a space for a kind of provocation, or call to action. In this way, the viewer is encouraged to take on an active role and become engaged, rather than remain a passive spectator.
The film’s title translates into ‘war as a way of life.’ Although the film is somewhat lacking in a certain kind of overall impact that would characterize it succinctly as a contemporary treatise on war, it is, nevertheless, a dynamic note on which to end the trilogy that began with Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi. Not necessarily indicating apocalyptic finality, the state of war can be characterized as conflict. The concept of war in general results from the institution of violence to disrupt, disturb or dismantle an otherwise hegemonic progression.
The visually stylized, poetic communication of the film seems to suggest a tonic to the tautology of technological innovation, or “progress.” The filmic or aesthetic realm is an interesting medium through which to explore the issue of war because it translates violence and destruction into a force that is both positive and creative.
The original music score, composed by Philip Glass, features haunting cello solos by Yo Yo Ma. Together with the pace and flow of the images, this assemblage stands out as the greatest strength of the film. The almost seamless progressions of fast and slowness seduce one another in a beautiful and complex dance.
Though, while not quite exhibiting the overall ease of breadth and scope as close relative, Baraka, nevertheless, Naqoyqatsi will become a cult classic.
DVD Extras A-