The title "KOYAANISQATSI" is a Hopi Indian word meaning "life out of balance." Created between 1975 and 1982, the film is an apocalyptic vision of the collision of two different worlds -- urban life and technology versus the environment. The musical score is composed by Philip Glass.KOYAANISQATSI attempts to reveal the beauty of the beast! We usually perceive our world, our way of living, as beautiful because there is nothing else to perceive. If one lives in this world, the globalized world of high technology, all one can see is one layer of commodity piled upon another. In our world the "original" is the proliferation of the standardized. Copies are copies of copies. There seems to be no ability to see beyond, to see that we have encased ourselves in an artificial environment that has remarkably replaced the original, nature itself. We do not live with nature any longer; we live above it, off of it as it were. Nature has become the resource to keep this artificial or new nature alive.
Godfrey Reggio, born in New Orleans, Louisiana, of Italian descent, has pioneered filmmaking with his famous Quatsi trilogy, in which the composer Philip Glass scored all three films. Spending 14 years in silence while studying to become a monk, he showed his altruistic side when he helped youth street gangs, the poor, and the community as a whole. After starting many non-profit organizations, he debuted as a film director and producer, later being recognized by the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City with a full career retrospective titled Life with Technology: The Cinema of Godfrey Reggio. With enough accolades and consistently revered for his works, Godfrey Reggio has made a magnificent impact in the film industry.
Initially, he wanted to avoid having a word as the title of his language-less film. “I wanted to have a visual,” he says. “And I had the one I wanted: the famous Life Magazine image with everybody with their 3D glasses in at Radio City, all looking at the same screen, but you don’t see the screen. But everybody said, ‘You just can’t do that, Godfrey.’ I wanted a word that had no baggage culturally — a word that had more profundity than our own language.”
The word he chose for his debut film, Koyaanisqatsi, means, “life out of balance” in the Hopi language. He borrowed it from his friend David Monongye, a healer from Arizona who lived to be 105.
“David told me, ‘Everything that you call normal we call a bad normal, everything that you call real, we call unreal, everything sane is insane,’” he remembers. “It was like music to my ears.”