Naqoyqatsi (2002)

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Released 2-Sep-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Life Is War
Featurette-Music Of Naqoyqatsi:Conversation With PhilipGlass & Yo-Yo Ma
Trailer-Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi
Featurette-NYU Panel Discussion
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 85:41
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (74:00) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Godfrey Reggio

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Marlon Brando
Elton John
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Bhagwan Mirchandani
Steven Soderbergh
Troy Aikman
The Beatles
Fidel Castro
Warren Christopher
Bill Clinton
Thomas A. Edison
Albert Einstein
Adolf Hitler
Case ?
RPI $34.95 Music Philip Glass

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles German Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This film is the last in a trilogy of films by filmmaker Godfrey Reggio and modern classical composer Phillip Glass. It uses images set to music to send a message about the state of the world in which we live. The first two films in this trilogy were very highly regarded from a critical perspective and have long been on my list of films that I would like to see. Despite not having seen the previous films, I was still keen to review this one to find out what the excitement was all about. Unfortunately, it is my impression based upon the trailers here for the other two films that this one is not up to the same standard. Call me a philistine if you like, but I just didn't 'get it'.

    Naqoyqatsi is a word from the Hopi Indian language which basically means 'war as a way of life'. Two alternate translations are also offered at the end of the film itself. The film features images of technology, soldiers, political leaders, religions, ideologies, industrial development, pollution, business, celebrities, violent computer games, civil unrest and much more. Most of the imagery has been digitally changed or is shown in a negative style. This is a major point of differentiation between this and the earlier films as these would seem to be much more realistic in their presentation of images. I felt that some of the images did not seem to fit well with the theme or the other images presented. It was quite abstract and 'arty'.

    On the other hand, the music by Phillip Glass is magnificent and features the warm and moving tones of Yo-Yo Ma's solo cello. To me, this film seems more like an extended abstract music video for the music rather than a cohesive comment on modern society.

    So, an abstract and difficult film accompanied by some amazingly beautiful music.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The video quality is difficult to review due to the nature of the imagery presented but does not seem to have any issues caused by the transfer.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is close to the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1.At some points the images appear to be stretched to fit the widescreen frame but this would seem to be a part of the original presentation based upon reading I have done.

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise.

    The colour when used (which is probably only half of the running time) is well rendered although quite often the colours are not natural by design, for example a green giraffe running on an orange plain.

    There were no noticeable artefacts of any kind except one spot of minor aliasing on hats at 11:30.

    There are subtitles in German which seem to only translate English words appearing on the screen as there is no dialogue.

    The layer change occurs at approximately 74:00 within chapter 10 but I did not notice it during playback.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is excellent, rendering the music extremely well.

    This DVD contains one audio option, a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s.

    There is no dialogue.

    The music by Phillip Glass is wonderful as mentioned above and was the highlight for me. It includes some orchestral instrumentation, the solo cello of Yo-Yo Ma and some vocal chants of the title.

    The surround speakers added to the music and featured the vocal chanting which was quite effective. The soundtrack is quite immersive.

     The subwoofer added nicely integrated bass to the music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu was simple, included stills from the film and the ability to select chapters.

Behind the Scenes Featurette (1:34)

    A very short piece of interview footage with Stephen Soderbergh and the director, Godfrey Reggio interspersed with footage from the film.

Music of Naqoyqatsi (7:04)

    A reasonably interesting interview with the composer, Phillip Glass and the solo cellist Yo-Yo Ma about the music.

Koyaaniqatsi Trailer (2:22)

    A trailer for the original film featuring much more interesting footage than is included in the feature here. The music is excellent.

Powaqqatsi Trailers (2:05)

    Two short trailers for the second film in the trilogy which again feature interesting footage and music.

NYU Panel Discussion (54:28)

    A panel discussion held at New York University before the film opened featuring John Rockwell, the Arts & Entertainment editor of the NY Times, the film's editor, Jon Kane, the director, Godfrey Reggio and the composer, Phillip Glass. Discussion covers the naming of the films, sourcing of the footage, how Reggio and Glass work together collaboratively and the themes addressed in each of the 3 films. Reggio admits that this film is the most difficult of the three to get into. This would certainly be of interest to fans of the trilogy, however it is a bit dull visually.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release of this film is in the same format except for PAL/NTSC differences. Go with whatever you can find cheapest.


    A difficult and arty film which matches digitally enhanced imagery with the wonderful music of Phillip Glass.

    The video has no discernible issues.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The disc has a selection of relevant extras which would be of interest to fans of this film or its two prequels.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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