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Naqoyqatsi poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Godfrey Reggio
Produced by Joe Beirne
Godfrey Reggio
Lawrence Taub
Written by Godfrey Reggio
Music by Philip Glass
Cinematography Russell Lee Fine
Edited by Jon Kane
Qatsi Productions
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release date
  • October 18, 2002 (2002-10-18)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Budget $3 million

Naqoyqatsi (/nɑːkɔɪˈkɑːtsi/ NAH-koy-KAH-tsee),[1] also known as Naqoyqatsi: Life as War, is a 2002 film directed by Godfrey Reggio and edited by Jon Kane, with music composed by Philip Glass. It is the third and final film in the Qatsi trilogy.

Naqoyqatsi is a Hopi word (more correctly written naqö̀yqatsi) meaning "life as war". In the film's closing credits, Naqoyqatsi is also translated as "civilized violence" and "a life of killing each other".[1] While Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi examine modern life in industrial countries and the conflict between encroaching industrialization and traditional ways of life, using slow motion and time-lapse footage of cities and natural landscapes, about eighty percent of Naqoyqatsi uses archive footage and stock images manipulated and processed digitally on non-linear editing (non-sequential) workstations and intercut with specially-produced computer generated imagery to demonstrate society's transition from a natural environment to a technology-based one. Reggio described the process as "virtual cinema".[2]


According to Reggio, the film has no screenplay per se, but three movements (like those of a symphony) with different themes:[2]

  1. Language and place gives way to numerical code and virtual reality.
  2. Circus maximus: Competition, winning, records, fame, “fair play” and the love of money are elevated to the prime values of life. Life becomes a game.
  3. Rocketship twentieth century: A world that language can no longer describe. The resulting explosive tempo of technology is war, civilized violence.


The September 11 attacks against the World Trade Center took place very close to the film's production studio, impacting the content of the film and further convincing the crew of the importance of its subject.[2]


The music is more in the traditional orchestral tradition than much of Glass's work as a familiar doorway to images so disconnected from the familiar world. One instrument, the cello played by Yo-Yo Ma, plays through much of the piece. Some unconventional instruments are used in addition to traditional ones, including a didgeridoo and an electronically-created jaw harp.[2]


There was some controversy over the production process after the film was released on DVD.[citation needed] Since most of the archive and stock footage used in the film was shot in a 4:3 aspect ratio, most of the film was horizontally stretched to accommodate the wider aspect ratio used in the cinema and in the DVD transfer.


Rotten Tomatoes reported that 48% out of 52 reviews were positive with the average score of 5.8 out of 10, and the consensus saying that is "the weakest film in Reggio's trilogy".[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Naqoyqatsi Definitions". Institute for Regional Education. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Rotten Tomatoes website: Reviews and long article on Naqoyqatsi, with input and quotations from Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass
  3. ^ "Naqoyqatsi (Naqoyqatsi: Life as War) (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 

External links[edit]