KOYAANISQATSI with Philip Glass

A far cry from those mandatory educational videos we all had to watch in middle school, KOYAANISQATSI (1982) is a film without narrative or plot that BAM is screening specially for students in grades 8-12. And with a new score composed by Philip Glass (who will moderate a post-screening discussion) it’s a shame the rest of us can’t come. Presented by Francis Ford Coppola, KOYAANISQATSI is the Hopi word for “life out of balance.” The film itself focuses on the relationship between humans, nature and technology and uses only techniques like slow motion and time lapse to tell the story.

It starts off big, with images of ancient cave paintings, deserted landscapes and impressive aerial photography of every imaginable environment. There are the requisite sunsets in fast forward and rapid moving clouds and people and cars. There are also slow moving clouds and people and cars and long shots on a single person’s face. There are tanks and planes and explosions, buildings full of people and buildings abandoned by them. There are moments when lava bursts from volcanoes and the music is epic and there are times when the music stops altogether. The effect is like a two-hour long meditation on whatever those images mean to each individual viewer. I hope the 8th-12th graders appreciate the experience.