Are you one of those people who think that George Lucas basically gave us Star Wars and then proceeded to blow it on anything and everything else he ever did? You're not alone.
But think again, good friends. Because I'm not afraid to say that George Lucas produced the first in a series of films that provided some of the most potent cosmic breast milk for my spiritual infancy.
Known as the "Qatsi" Trilogy, Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, with director Godfrey Reggio, kicked the series off back in 1982 with Koyaanisqatsi, which is roughly translated from Hopi to mean, "Life out of balance". A trailer for the move is below:
The series then continued in 1988 with Powaqqatsi, roughly translated, "Life in transformation". Again, a trailer is below:
The next film is not technically part of the "Qatsi" trilogy, but is cut from the same cloth and was the installment that first introduced me to the Trilogy. In 1992, Ron Fricke, the cinematographer for Koyaanisqatsi, produced Baraka, roughly translated, "Blessing". A look at the trailer will reveal just how similar the films are in both style and intention (and they regularly get compared):
Continuing on with the "Qatsi" Trilogy was 2002's Naqoyqatsi, roughly translated, "Life as war".
As you can see from the trailers, these movies employ some distinctive techniques that set them apart from essentially any other category of movies. There is no vocalized narrative, nor an overt linearity to the images presented. Much of the films are presented via time lapse and slow motion footage on multiple continents and cultures using instrumental music.
But the real key to these movies is the viewing experience. Each film is, in its own way, incredibly expansive, having been shot in larger than normal film (Koyaanisqatsi 16mm, Powaqqatsi 35mm, Baraka 35mm, Nayqoqatsi 35mm). That openness, plus the other stylistic particulars, provides a rich ground for collective exploration and inquiry into the meaning of the space one enters, especially when viewing with others.
The effect is to leave you looking at the world differently, though exactly how your perspective has been altered depends largely on the viewer themselves. My own experience was a distinctive awe-of-the-world effect that has stuck with me as I move into a deeper relationship with and embrace of the world around me. Introduction into that sort of awe was formative to my own spiritual development, as well as the development of others at this site.
So it is exciting to see that Ron Fricke has now come out with a follow up to Baraka entitled, Samsara. Check out the trailer below: