Question Of The Week: "Koyaanisqatsi"

by Conor Friedersdorf

A reader writes:

I saw the film "Koyaanisqatsi" in 1987, as a college freshman.  I had no idea what I was sitting down to watch, but some upperclassmen in the film club I belonged to were really excited to be exhibiting this one, so I went along for the ride.  At the risk of sounding ridiculously clichéd, it blew my poor naïve little white suburban mind.  This strange, unique, beautiful movie opened my eyes to the world around me, forced me to consider my place in that world, and has had the most profound effect on the way I’ve lived my life since.

Decades later, I still turn off the lights every time I leave a room, manage my thermostat carefully, approach shopping and consuming with forethought.  I was recycling long before big blue bins became ubiquitous.  I map out the shortest and most efficient routes for driving and take public transportation whenever I can.  I could list a dozen other examples, but you would just start to hate me.  I suppose I am “reducing my carbon footprint” according to the modern parlance that has arisen in the interim about this kind of lifestyle.  But that’s not how I think about it.  Because, in fact, I don't think about it; these aren’t conscious activities for me.  The film influenced me so completely that they are now instinctive behaviors.  I’m just trying to keep my life in balance.

Do I sound terribly obnoxious?  I’m really not; I don’t proselytize about this stuff, and I honestly don’t care or expect anyone else to understand or live the same way.  The farthest I will ever go is to recommend the film, though it is definitely one that can best be appreciated in a theatre setting with great sound and no interruptions.  But sadly, as the repertory/retrospective art-house cinema is nearly extinct, you might have to just rent it, or watch it here.