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The Qatsi Trilogy(1982-2002)
See individual titles for their synopsies
For more about The Qatsi Trilogy and the The Qatsi Trilogy Blu-ray release, see the The Qatsi Trilogy Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on December 10, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Godfrey Reggio
Writers: Godfrey Reggio, Ron Fricke
This Blu-ray bundle includes the following titles, see individual titles for specs and details:
The Qatsi Trilogy Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, December 10, 2012
The Qatsi Trilogy (Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, and Naqoyqatsi) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features included with this release are original trailers for each film; video interview with director of photography Ron Fricke; conversation with Godfrey Reggio and composer Philip Glass; episode of the New Mexico public television program Colores!; video interview with composer Philip Glass and acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma; panel discussion featuring director Godfrey Reggio, composer Philip Glass, and editor Jon Kane; making of featurette; and a lot more. The release also arrives with a 36-page illustrated booklet featuring Scott Macdonald's essay "Celebration and Warning"; John Rockwell's essay "Counterpoint and Harmony"; and Bill McKibben's essay "Geologic Scale and Human Scale". Region-A "locked".
Light. Darkness. Movement. Color. These are the four key elements in Koyaanisqatsi, the first installment in Godfrey Reggio's The Qatsi Trilogy. In the Hopi language Koyaanisqatsi refers to life in turmoil, life out of balance.
The camera slowly moves from landscape to landscape, observing a process, capturing life as it happens on earth. Massive plants, industrial buildings, roads and planes appear. In a desert somewhere, someone detonates a bomb. A rocket is dispatched in outer space. War planes drop bombs. The landscapes, the visuals suggest, are changing.
Elsewhere a giant city has come alive. Its streets are jammed with cars. Its clean new buildings are greeted by the sun. Some of its people, however, have been abandoned. Now the camera turns to the projects where they live, where lonely buildings are waiting to be destroyed. One after another they begin to fall. But the sun rises again and men continue to build giant highways, airports, train stations, stadiums, and billboards. The process is different now, altered by technology, a lot faster and at times looking frustratingly chaotic.
The second installment in The Qatsi Trilogy is Powaqqatsi. In the Hopi language Powaqqatsi refers to an entity, a way of life, which consumes the life forces of other beings in order to further its own life.
The key elements in this film are rhythm and tradition. Reggio turns his camera towards the nations in the Southern Hemisphere where life seems to have a constant rhythm. Men and nature seem to coexist in perfect harmony here. Life is simple, beautiful, often difficult.
Then the landscapes begin to change again. It is technology that is bringing the change. Scattered images then show very large and very busy cities, highways, tunnels, commercials eroding traditions, a way of life people have cherished for centuries. Unknown faces come and go, all of them looking busy, few of them smiling. It is the era of technological progress, the time of the Metropolis.
The third and final installment in the The Qatsi Trilogy is Naqoyqatsi. In the Hopi language Naqoyqatsi refers to a life of killing each other, civilized violence.
The key elements in this film are chaos, identity, speed and numbers. Neon lights, ancient symbols, stars, powerful waves and the faces of important political and social figures constantly overlap. The computer has come alive and changed the world. Now people in different continents are capable of instantly talking to each other; the world is at their fingertips. But they are lonely, stuck on the information highway, looking for something, fascinated by violence.
Once again there is a lot of movement. But unlike that observed in Koyaanisqatsi and Naqoyqatsi, the movement here looks forced, unnatural, even dangerous. The colors are also strange, as if borrowed from a cheap video game. Everything looks possible, yet nothing is real, nothing has a real value. This is the digital era. The time of the Disposable.
The goal of these films is not to take the viewer to exotic places and fascinate him during the journey. The images are too detached from one another to deliver such an experience and there isn't a simple plot to be followed. The idea behind them is to provoke reactions, bring sensations, raise awareness. They are open for interpretation. They are one giant road experience, a mesmerizing look at our planet.
The three films were shot over a period of twenty years (1982-2002). Each features an atmospheric score by acclaimed contemporary composer Philip Glass, with the final film also containing beautiful solos by acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Koyaanisqatsi was lensed by cinematographer Ron Fricke (Baraka, Samsara). Powaqqatsi was lensed by cinematographers Graham Berry (camera, The Princess and the Warrior) and Leonidas Zourdoumis, while Naqoyqatsi was lensed by Russell Lee Fine (TV's The Wire).
The Qatsi Trilogy Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in their original aspect ratios of 1.85:1 (Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi) and 1.78:1 (Naqoyqatsi), encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted 1080p transfers, the three films in Godfrey Reggio's The Qatsi Trilogy arrive on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The text that is quoted below appears inside the booklet provided with this box set:
"Koyaanisqatsi - This new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on a Northlight Digital Film Scanner from the original 35mm camera negative. A 1999 transfer supervised by Reggio was used as a direct frame-for-frame reference. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, and warps were manually removed using MTI's DRS; jitter was fixed using Pixel Farm's PFClean; and Image System's DVNR was used for small dirt, grain, and flicker.
Transfer supervisor: Maria Palazzola.
Colorist: Gregg Garvin/Modern Videofilm, Glendale, CA."
Koyaanisqatsi looks healthy and lush. Occasionally clarity fluctuates a bit as the camera moves from one location to another, but depth and detail are always very good. Color reproduction is very pleasing. There are plenty of very well saturated browns, greens, blues, reds, grays, and blacks, and none of them exhibit any signs of boosting. Furthermore, there are no traces of excessive sharpening or degraning corrections. Unsurprisingly, from start to finish the film has a very solid organic look. Compression is also excellent. Lastly, there are no serious stability issues to report in this review.
"Powaqqatsi - This new high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a new 35mm interpositive struck from the original camera negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS and Pixel Farm's PFClean, while Image Systems' DVNR was used for small dirt.
Transfer supervisor: Maria Palazzola.
Colorist: Gregg Garvin/Modern Videofilm, Glendale, CA."
Similar to Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi looks very healthy and vibrant. Detail and clarity here are particularly impressive, especially during the first half of the film where there are plenty of bright yellows, greens, reds, and browns. Some minor contrast fluctuations are noticeable during select panoramic shots, but the high-definition transfer is not to be faulted as they are very clearly part of the principal photography. There are no traces of excessive degraining corrections. Additionally, the film looks crisp but not artificially sharpened. Some very light noise occasionally pops up, but it is never distracting. There are no cuts, damage marks, debris, or warps.
"Naqoyqatsi - About 30 percent of Naqoyqatsi's footage was shot on 35mm negative; this was scanned on a Spirit Datacine at Technicolor New York. The rest of the film - apart from a small quantity of material that was created digitally from scratch - is made up of stock footage that was manipulated using Avid, Adobe After Effects, and, for the 3D material, Maya. The final high-definition footage was color corrected and restored using a Digital Intermediate workflow to create a new negative.
Supervision: Godfrey Reggio, Jon Kane.
Colorist: Joe Gawler/Technicolor New York."
Because of the various image manipulations, detail and contrast often fluctuate. The effects sequences, in particular, have different degrees of color saturation. Depth, however, is very good, while stability is clearly improved when compared to the old OOP R1 DVD release Miramax produced back in 2003. There are no macroblockig patterns. I also did not see any other purely transfer specific anomalies to report in this review.
(Note: All three discs are Region-A "locked". Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access their content).
The Qatsi Trilogy Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Each of the three films comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Optional English subtitles are not provided because each film is complimented only by a music score composed by Philip Glass.
The lossless tracks give each film dimensionality that profoundly transforms the viewing experience. There are a number of different sequences, for example, where the powerful choir or Yo-Yo Ma's beautiful solos further enhance the unique atmosphere. Obviously, these are not films that will impress you with superb dynamic intensity, but depth and fluidity are indeed very good. There is some fine surround movement as well, but I think that the lossless tracks excel primarily by expanding and enhancing the nuanced dynamics that are part of the original sound designs for each film.
The Qatsi Trilogy Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Qatsi Trilogy Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
All three films in The Qatsi Trilogy offer experiences that are impossible to summarize with simple words. They represent ideas, trends, fears, contrasts, a sense of what it means to exist. If you have already seen Baraka and Samsara and enjoyed them, you should not miss The Qatsi Trilogy. Criterion have given these films brand new transfers and they look simply beautiful on Blu-ray. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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