This is the trailer for Koyaanisqatsi, the 1984 art film directed by Godfrey Reggio. If you’ve seen the film before, or know what the trailer looks like, keep reading.
This is Koyaanistocksi, a recreation, released this week, of the original trailer above. Except where the images in the first were created by Reggio and his cinematographer, Ron Fricke, every shot here is replaced by a piece of free, watermarked stock footage.
At the time of its release, Koyaanisqatsi famously defied description. It was a “visual tone poem,” a series of moving images, slowed down and sped up, set to a churning and monumental soundtrack by Phillip Glass. Sunlight passing over cities, flowers opening to face the sun, clouds blooming into convection—the whole documentary articulated that human life had gone awry. According to the filmmakers, Koyaanisqatsi was a Hopi word that meant “life out of balance.”
Without ever using words, Koyaanisqatsi made an argument. At the time, Reggio’s official biography declared he was “interested in the impact of the media in conveying ideas rather than promoting commodities.” Koyaanisqatsi was beautiful, gargantuan, tranquil, yes, but it also positioned itself against what we would now call extractive capitalism.