21 June 2005

Alex Ross on Koyaanisqatsi

Alex Ross is on target with his review of the recent performance of Koyaanisqatsi at the Rose Theater in NYC. Lisa & I saw Naqoyqatsi in the same series--hey, I wonder if Alex Ross was that hirsute guy sitting in front of us! Either way...we generally agree with critics when they (1) enlighten us in some way, or (2) agree with us.

I'll take 2.

Lost in the corporate email archives of either Sterling Commerce or Xcellenet is my review of Koyaanisqatsi at The Fox Theater sent to a co-worker in the day-after excitement--still shocked by the astoundingly perfect ending. I'm lucky I didn't encounter the movie in college or else, like Ross, I might have dismissed it as a trippy, slick, MTV-ish thing, to which some well-meaning soul had attached hippie messages about the mechanization of existence and the spoliation of the planet. I was not the sharpest student in the pencil box, and, hanging around liberals much more rabid than me, would have been pelted with Groovy Theories. And those are the terms that I heard used when the movie was discussed in musical circles. When I finally saw it, my excitement came from a response to it's much more nuanced statement: that we're part of a complex system. Love it or whatever. The crushing mechanization, displayed alternately in frenzied time-lapse and langorous slow motion, is paired directly with scenes from nature using the same techniques. You can view 10-hours-as-10-minutes of factory workers in the same manner as of clouds passing. Our social systems are not necessarily a problem; they're what we are.

One point Alex Ross missed that hit me during The Fox performance was the sublime parallel of the images in the movie (e.g. workers as part of the machine of society) and the actions of the musicians--struggling to keep time with the flow of the movie and to match the sometimes very precise entries and exits. For me, it was a perfect introduction to Koyaanisqatsi.

[ posted by sstrader on 21 June 2005 at 12:57:55 AM in Music ]