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Wanna smoke some "Naqoyqatsi?"

2003-04-18 - 10:18 p.m.

I think I may have seen the greatest stoner movie of all time last night, and I wasn't even stoned.

(And no, it wasn't Pink Floyd-related in any way.)

It was "Naqoyqatsi," a film consisting solely of images set to music--think "Fantasia," sans cartoons and sans Disney. And instead of pink dancing hippopotamuses in tutus, think of a bunch of little squiggly sperms melding into an image of a bunch of soldiers marching in a row. The film is a bubbling cauldron of contrasting images that bleed into each other all in time to a sweeping score by composer Philip Glass, with cello solos by Yo Yo Ma.

The weird-looking title is Hopi for "Life as War." Though it's actually the third in a trilogy, I'd never heard of filmmaker Godfrey Reggio or any advance news of this project being developed, (although it seems that every magazine lets you know months in advance when something like, oh, I don�t know, �Sweet Home Alabama" is going into production).

El Jefe was gung ho as soon as he read about it, but I had no real desire to see it--call me a sucker for dialogue and narrative. But it was riveting, despite the lack of any conventional elements such as plot or character. The film is 90 minutes long, and in all that time, Reggio keeps your interest and manages to do so without catering to the Ritalin-fueled cultural short attention span. He somehow fuses images like grocery store aisles with an image of floating astronauts and an then an image of a woman from a fast food commercial laughing as she eats a cheeseburger, in a matter of minutes without making it seem like an aimless, image-for-image's-sake MTV video.

However, having said all that, I just learned from doing a bit of googly-googling that the music is divided into segments with names like:


2. Primacy of Number

3. Massman

4. New World

5. Religion

6. Media Weather

7. Old World

8. Intensive Time

9. Point Blank

10. The Vivid Unknown

11. Definition

and it might have helped to know those titles as we went along. Sometimes it was hard to know if I was just trying to analyze it all too much or there really was a theme I just wasn't seeing.

What I did take away from it is that through just images and music, the filmmaker manages to convey thematic questions about where we are headed as a society; what is to be made of our obsession with celebrity and consumerist culture; how the overload of information is effecting our society; what it means to compete, succeed, and conform (lots of sports images and soldier images); and, generally, the way in which life and conflict are inseparable.

You know, just like "The Wall."

Or, here:this says it better than I can.

If you�re not interested in this 'further reading,' here is a really cool thing the filmmaker says in the article:

"Live your own creative life. Don't make your college diploma a death certificate because it conjoins you to the great myth of making money, and the pursuit of technological happiness through 'commodotization.''




There was one a few weeks ago when the kids had a garage sale and the dad found this little soundboard thingy with which he used to conduct his pirated college radio station. So he starts it up again, now, as a forty-something dad in the suburbs, sitting in the garage and spouting off conspiracy theories--�Evian is �naive� spelled backward, people!!�--and thinking he�s reaching out to all these passionate listeners (who are, of course, non-existent).

Remember that?

Sometimes I feel like that guy.


Not that you really care or anything, (nor should you), but DID YOU KNOW THERE USED TO BE AN �NBC BLUE?�

I wonder if it tasted anything remotely like Blue Pepsi?


this is getting a wee bit out of control, don�t you think?

that was then - this is now

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