Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

A glance at Godfrey Reggio’s Visitors.

The director of Koyaanisqatsi reunites with Philip Glass for some sort of cinematic poem

Mon, Nov 4, 2013, 23:06


Knock, knock. Who’s there? Knock, knock. Who’s there? Knock, knock. Who’s there? Philip Glass.

Don’t write in. I really like Mr Glass. But that ancient joke is always worth dredging up from the caverns. Among Philip’s best work is the score he wrote for Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi. It is so resonant that it turned up in the opening section of Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. I am not altogether sure that the picture (Koyaanisqatsi, not Alpha Papa) is all that fashionable now. Many people find the narrative-free strings of beautiful images just a little bit too prettified and the message too obvious. Sod that. It still seems t a bit of a marvel to me. Yes, you will enjoy it more when medicated. You could say the same thing of the Rite of Spring. Nobody uses that as a stick with which to beat Stravinsky.

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Anyway, for the first time in 10 years, the composer and director are back in harness for a feature. The trailer is rather lovely, but it asks more questions than it answers. The accompanying blurb isn’t much more helpful. ”Visitors reveals humanity’s trancelike relationship with technology, which, when commandeered by extreme emotional states, produces massive effects far beyond the human species,” it says before going on to say some other things.

Many people liked it when it screened as a special presentation at the Toronto Film Festival. Here’s IndieWire:

“The world premiere of Qatsi trilogy director Godfrey Reggio’s long-awaited and eagerly anticipated “Visitors” provided the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival with something extraordinarily unique: its greatest cinematic experience. The stunningly photographed, often difficult, always transfixing film was not the most satisfying creation on display at TIFF, or for many cinemagoers, its most alluring. But it was without question its most important.”

A few more people disliked it. Variety thought it “far ahead of the curve technically“.  I, for one, am simply glad that it exists. Lord alone knows when we will get to see it in these territories. Apparently it requires projection equipment from the year 3024.