Koyaanisqatsi (1983)

87 mins | Documentary | April 1983

Full page view
HISTORY

End credits are preceded the following statements: "Ko-yaa-nis-qatsi (from the Hopi language), n. 1. crazy life. 2. life in turmoil. 3. life out of balance. 4. life disintegrating. 5. a state of life that calls for another way of living"; "Translation of the Hopi Prophecies sung in the film: 'If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster'; 'Near the Day of Purification, there will be cobwebs spun back and forth in the sky'; 'A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky, which could burn the land and boil the oceans'"; "Special thanks: Fred Ampel, Leon Bijou, Shimon Braun, Susan Brockman, Dr. Luba Burtyck, Brant Calkin, Walter Chappel, Saul Cohen, Bruce Conner, Kheno Tsewang Dongyal, Virginia Dwan, Robert Frank, Willy Garcia, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Hall, Juan Hamilton, Ray Hemenez, Susan Hess, William Hess, Fran Hill, Annemey Honegger, David Hunter, Leo Hurwitz, Robert C. Israel, Luis Jaramillo, Dan Johnson, Stefan Jovanovich, Gabe Katz, Nancy Kleinbord, Dan Katchongva, Dr. Matthew Kelly, Laurel Feltz, Dan Leibsohn, Jack Leoffler, Michael A. Lew Pierre, David Lubell, Jerry Mander, Jack Moore, Victoria Mudd, Jim Nix, Georgia O'Keefe, Peter Orlovsky, Tasha Ostrander, Mary H. Reggio, William Rosendahl, Agnes Saalfield, Khenpo Palden Sherab, Richard Sykes, Roger Spottiswoode, Ronald Steckel, Jim Tate, Laurel Taub, Victor T. Valdez, Woody & Steina Vasulka, Marion Weber, Cynthia West, Philip Wilburn, Rudy Wurlitzer"; "Stock footage: Energy Productions, cinematography by Louis Schwartzberg; National Film Archives NASA-Larry Heflin; Consolidated Demolition Inc.; MacGillivray-Freeman; Screen Presentations; Norton Air Force Base; Sherman Grinberg Library; U.S. Geological Survey"; "Inspiration & ideas: Jacques Ellul, Ivan Illich, David Monongye, Guy Debord, Leopold Kohr."
       The 18 Jun 1983 LAT reported that producer-director ... More Less

End credits are preceded the following statements: "Ko-yaa-nis-qatsi (from the Hopi language), n. 1. crazy life. 2. life in turmoil. 3. life out of balance. 4. life disintegrating. 5. a state of life that calls for another way of living"; "Translation of the Hopi Prophecies sung in the film: 'If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster'; 'Near the Day of Purification, there will be cobwebs spun back and forth in the sky'; 'A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky, which could burn the land and boil the oceans'"; "Special thanks: Fred Ampel, Leon Bijou, Shimon Braun, Susan Brockman, Dr. Luba Burtyck, Brant Calkin, Walter Chappel, Saul Cohen, Bruce Conner, Kheno Tsewang Dongyal, Virginia Dwan, Robert Frank, Willy Garcia, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Hall, Juan Hamilton, Ray Hemenez, Susan Hess, William Hess, Fran Hill, Annemey Honegger, David Hunter, Leo Hurwitz, Robert C. Israel, Luis Jaramillo, Dan Johnson, Stefan Jovanovich, Gabe Katz, Nancy Kleinbord, Dan Katchongva, Dr. Matthew Kelly, Laurel Feltz, Dan Leibsohn, Jack Leoffler, Michael A. Lew Pierre, David Lubell, Jerry Mander, Jack Moore, Victoria Mudd, Jim Nix, Georgia O'Keefe, Peter Orlovsky, Tasha Ostrander, Mary H. Reggio, William Rosendahl, Agnes Saalfield, Khenpo Palden Sherab, Richard Sykes, Roger Spottiswoode, Ronald Steckel, Jim Tate, Laurel Taub, Victor T. Valdez, Woody & Steina Vasulka, Marion Weber, Cynthia West, Philip Wilburn, Rudy Wurlitzer"; "Stock footage: Energy Productions, cinematography by Louis Schwartzberg; National Film Archives NASA-Larry Heflin; Consolidated Demolition Inc.; MacGillivray-Freeman; Screen Presentations; Norton Air Force Base; Sherman Grinberg Library; U.S. Geological Survey"; "Inspiration & ideas: Jacques Ellul, Ivan Illich, David Monongye, Guy Debord, Leopold Kohr."
       The 18 Jun 1983 LAT reported that producer-director Godfrey Reggio, a former Roman Catholic monk and political activist, founded the Institute for Regional Education (IRE) in Santa Fe, NM, with funding from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and began a local media campaign to market progressive ideas in the same manner as consumer products. Through IRE, Reggio raised approximately $2.5 million from seventy individual donors to finance his first motion picture venture, which he described as a “look at ordinary life from an extraordinary point of view,” an “escape to reality,” and a highly technical film as an indictment of technology. Reggio and director of photography Ron Fricke spent three years filming in fourteen states, followed by another four years of editing.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files described the innovative photographic equipment developed by Fricke, which included a 16mm zoom lens fitted to a 35mm camera, which gave images “softness that follows that natural curvature of the land.” He also designed and built a device for programming camera speeds, tilts, and pans, made from “Radio Shack parts and electric car window motors.” The aerial footage supplied by McGillivray-Freeman was accomplished with the help of a helicopter camera mount that reduced vibrations and facilitated smooth movement of the remote controlled cameras. Kathryn Beatie of Gumshoe Research spent more than 350 hours locating stock footage without the help of a database, attributing her success to keeping her “eyes and ears open” and using her intuition. Time-lapse photography, supplied by filmmaker Hilary Harris, included footage from his 1975 short subject, Organism .
       According to the Dec 1983 Box, Reggio, assisted by IRE’s Ronald P. Gold, began researching methods for international distribution eighteen months prior to the completion of editing, with the goal of learning “how to market an unconventional film in a conventional market.” They compiled their research into a three-volume, 3500-page paper analyzing thirty-seven market categories of media. An article in the 16 Jun 1983 HR stated that composer Philip Glass joined the project in 1980, and constructed his score by viewing brief sections of the film on videocassette. Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola offered to distribute the picture after viewing a work print, but Reggio refused to surrender any aspect of his control over the project. However, Box reported that Reggio did accept the assistance of Tom Luddy, Coppola’s creative services director, who entered Koyaanisqatsi in a number of film festivals prior to its commercial release. Despite several citations of the New York Film Festival as the picture’s debut, a news item in the 8 Sep 1982 Var revealed that it premiered 5 Sep 1982 at the Telluride Film Festival in Telluride, CO, for which Luddy was co-director. The 7 Sep 1982 DV noted that a work print had been screened months earlier, in Apr 1982 at the Santa Fe Film Festival.
       According to the Box article, Triumph Films, a subsidiary of Columbia Pictures Corporation, offered to distribute the picture, but Reggio declined, believing that the process would not receive adequate attention from the company president. He ultimately chose Island Alive, a new company owned by music executive Chris Blackwell, studio executive Cary Brokaw, talent agent Shep Gordon, and filmmaker Carolyn Pfeiffer. Koyaanisqatsi made its commercial debut in San Francisco, CA, in Apr 1983. Its modest $6500 advertising budget produced gross receipts of $46,000 over the course of a single week. During the film’s Los Angeles, CA, engagements, it earned $300,000 over fifteen weeks, approximately three times the cost of its advertising budget. A “glossy black and red pamphlet,” which contained translations of the title and the Hopi prophecies heard in the musical score, was available at some theaters. An album of the soundtrack was released on Island Records, an affiliate of Island Alive.
       Despite its commercial success, Koyaanisqatsi garnered mixed reviews. While the 17 Jun 1983 LAT described it as “an astonishing symphony of sound and images,” the 16 Apr 1983 LAHExam dismissed it as “pseudo-intellectual fraud.”

More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Billboard
21 Sep 1983.
---
Box Office
Dec 1983
p. 68, 70.
Daily Variety
7 Sep 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Oct 1982
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jun 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 1983
p. 3, 17.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jul 1983.
---
LAHExam
16 Apr 1983.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Jun 1983.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Jun 1983
Section V, p. 1, 6.
Los Angeles Times
11 Jul 1983.
---
New York Times
4 Oct 1982
p. 14.
Screen International
3 Sep 1983.
---
Variety
8 Sep 1982.
---
Variety
6 Oct 1982
p. 16, 18.
Variety
16 Feb 1983.
---
Variety
24 Aug 1983
p. 25.
Variety
14 Sep 1983.
---
Village Voice
12 Oct 1982.
---
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Francis Ford Coppola presents
An IRE Presentation
DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
Addl cine
Addl cine
Assoc cine
Micro chip still photog
Rock painting still photog
Spec cam modification
Pilot for aerial cine
Pilot for aerial cine
Pilot for aerial cine
Grip
Processing by
Prints by
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
Ed consultant
Negative cutter
MUSIC
Philip Glass mus prod & rec by
Philip Glass mus cond by
Mus dir & addl mus
Mus ed
Musicians' contractor
Solo organ
Vocals
solo bass
Tibetan bells
Tibetan bells
Organ loc rec
Mus consultant
Mus consultant
Mus re-rec at
SOUND
Audio & electronic eng
Eff ed
Re-rec mixer
Sd eff rec
Sd eff rec
Sd eff rec
Sd eff rec
Rec eng
RCA Studios NYC
Rec eng
RPM Studios NYC
Goldwyn sd facility tech dir
Audio tech asst
Dubbing machine rec
Sd consultant
Dolby consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Explosive eng
Opt consultant
Opt consultant
Opt consultant
Title des
Titles and opticals
PRODUCTION MISC
Dramaturge
Creative consultant
Dist res
Dist & promotion
Consultant to the dir
Consultant to the dir
Consultant to the dir
Consultant to the dir
Consultant to the dir
Consultant to the dir
Institute for Regional Education coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Loc access
Loc access
Spec asst to Philip Glass
Hopi prophecy consultant
Hopi prophecy consultant
Hopi prophecy consultant
Hopi prophecy consultant
Hopi prophecy consultant
Hopi prophecy consultant
Post-prod consultant
Linguistic res on title
Linguistic res on title
Organ courtesy of
Calvary Church NYC, Organ courtesy of
Music director
Stock footage res
Stock footage res
ANIMATION
Still photog anim
COLOR PERSONNEL
Timer
Timer
DETAILS
Release Date:
April 1983
Premiere Information:
San Francisco, opening: Apr 1983; Los Angeles opening: 14 Jun 1983; New York opening: 14 Sep 1983.
Production Date:
1975--1978
Copyright Claimant:
Institute for Regional Education
Copyright Date:
26 July 1983
Copyright Number:
PA0000184721
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
87
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Arizona, the wall of a canyon is adorned with artwork created by Hopi Indians. Clouds travel across a mountain range, followed by aerial views of a waterfall and a calm ocean. Elsewhere, the land is marred by strip mining, land movers, oil pipelines, electrical towers, factories, dams, oil derricks, and nuclear weapons tests. On the California coast, tourists sunbathe in the shadow of an oil refinery. Automobiles crowd freeways, and appear as if they are traveling alongside a large airliner. Fighter planes drop bombs, a missile is launched from a silo, a fleet of aircraft carriers sail the ocean, and explosions occur around various machines of war. In New York City, modern skyscrapers contrast with decaying apartment buildings, which are ultimately demolished. A cloud of polluted air covers the city. People clutter the streets, hemmed in by enormous structures and surrounded by advertising. A fighter pilot stands proudly next to his jet plane, and a group of waitresses pose in front of the Las Vegas, Nevada, casino where they are employed. Automobile and foot traffic move rapidly through cityscapes. At an Oscar Meyer processing plant, thousands of wieners roll off an assembly line. People play video games, go bowling, and file in and out of a diner. Inside an automobile assembly plant, humans work alongside machines as cars are built in rapid succession. At a department store, a mother and her two children stand in front of a display of television sets. Elsewhere, a performance artist detonates an explosive charge underneath a pile of old televisions. Dancers in a discotheque are juxtaposed ... +


In Arizona, the wall of a canyon is adorned with artwork created by Hopi Indians. Clouds travel across a mountain range, followed by aerial views of a waterfall and a calm ocean. Elsewhere, the land is marred by strip mining, land movers, oil pipelines, electrical towers, factories, dams, oil derricks, and nuclear weapons tests. On the California coast, tourists sunbathe in the shadow of an oil refinery. Automobiles crowd freeways, and appear as if they are traveling alongside a large airliner. Fighter planes drop bombs, a missile is launched from a silo, a fleet of aircraft carriers sail the ocean, and explosions occur around various machines of war. In New York City, modern skyscrapers contrast with decaying apartment buildings, which are ultimately demolished. A cloud of polluted air covers the city. People clutter the streets, hemmed in by enormous structures and surrounded by advertising. A fighter pilot stands proudly next to his jet plane, and a group of waitresses pose in front of the Las Vegas, Nevada, casino where they are employed. Automobile and foot traffic move rapidly through cityscapes. At an Oscar Meyer processing plant, thousands of wieners roll off an assembly line. People play video games, go bowling, and file in and out of a diner. Inside an automobile assembly plant, humans work alongside machines as cars are built in rapid succession. At a department store, a mother and her two children stand in front of a display of television sets. Elsewhere, a performance artist detonates an explosive charge underneath a pile of old televisions. Dancers in a discotheque are juxtaposed with high-speed traffic. In various American cities, people go about their lives as police and firemen attend to victims of crime and disaster. In Florida, a rocket explodes shortly after lift-off, and the burning nosecone falls slowly toward earth. Back in Arizona, the Hopi artwork still adorns the canyon wall. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.