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Actually, the film society here was showing not only Koyaanisqatsi but also, on successive nights, the sequels Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi. I went to see them, too, and I have to say, they were absolutely wretched. The only reason I didn't walk out was that I wanted the closure of knowing I'd seen them.

Normally, when I don't like something, I just don't mention it here, but I'd hate to think that someone, somewhere, might see how much I liked the first one and accidentally watch one of the others. It's too late for me, but at least I can apply the idea of detachment.

Since I didn't have anything else to do while I was watching, I wondered what the difference was why did the other two movies fail where K succeeded? (I'll call the movies K, P, and N for short.)

It took me a while to realize one obvious reason. The images and music in K were amazingly beautiful; the images and music in the others weren't.

Another reason is that in K there was a feeling of sequence, of the development of a theme, even if at first it wasn't clear what the theme was. That was true of both the images and the music, by the way. What about P and N?

  • The music in both P and N struck me as very repetitive. I know that's a funny complaint, since the music in K is minimalist, and no doubt would strike many people as repetitive, but there it is.
  • The images in P were almost maliciously incoherent. Every time I thought I was beginning to see a pattern, it was destroyed with the very next image. For example, one time there was a change in the music, and the view changed to an aerial shot of a new place, some village in Asia, maybe. Then there was another shot of the same place, and a third, and I thought, well, OK, maybe this makes a little bit of sense now but of course the next image was completely unrelated.
  • The images in N were mostly coherent, but they didn't develop at all. For example, there was one set that was about money. There were some animated currency symbols, some pictures of bills from various countries, maybe some shots of money being printed. So, I had the idea: money. But, it didn't go anywhere, just kept on with more of the same.

The thing that was really strange, though, was that at the end of both P and N, some of the audience was enthused and clapping. I was mystified what on earth could they be thinking? Maybe I should have stayed and asked, but I didn't, so now all I can do is guess. And, my best guess is, they came in with views that made the content interesting to them made them look at pictures of money, for example, and see a scathing indictment of global capitalism.


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@ October (2003)