Godfrey Reggio Interview

by Ezra Buckley on October 10, 2017

Godfrey Reggio could be described, simply, as a documentarian. However, his experimental, non-narrated films go far beyond the simplistic mode of information-based moving pictures. Instead of numbers, charts and equations we are presented with inscrutable human faces, immersed in the technological world through which they travel. Stunning natural oases of water and land barricade the ominous enormity of industrialism, which crashes and storms with the surges of Phillip Glass’ minimalist orchestral score. Challenging, but never high-minded, encompassing but never elitist, Reggio has finally concluded the Qatsi trilogy (Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi) with the theatrical release of Naqoyqatsi. Each film deals with, respectively, the perspectives as regards technology within the first world, the third world and the digital world, to be very brief.

Reggio has worked in a “non-ideological, mutual aid collective”, founded 33 years ago, that operated without wage labor and focused on living life creatively. Its members have managed to retain creative control over their films despite substantial contracts with MGM, which has released the Qatsi DVDs. He and his teams’ creative approach to cataloguing and debunking the industrial division of labor is unprecedented in the documentary tradition. Reggio’s work, in particular Koyaanisqatsi, is notable to Green Anarchists as one of the first films to question technology as a totality. In his own words, “The idea was to mainline in the vascular structure of the beast this form, which was created by technology, to question technology. In other words, these are not environmental films, these are films more about the presence of technology as a new and comprehensive host of life and three different points of view about it.” The current film, Naqoyqatsi, will finish its theatrical run on January 24 and arrive in a three-DVD set with the rest of the films in 2004. Reggio has no current plans to create films after the end of the Qatsi trilogy.

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