From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Theatrical release poster
Directed byGodfrey Reggio
Produced by
Written by
  • Godfrey Reggio
  • Ken Richards
Music byPhilip Glass
Edited by
Distributed byThe Cannon Group
Release date
  • April 29, 1988 (1988-04-29)
Running time
99 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$589,244[2]

Powaqqatsi (or Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation) is a 1988 American documentary film directed by Godfrey Reggio and the sequel to Reggio's experimental 1982 film, Koyaanisqatsi. It is the second film in the Qatsi trilogy.

Powaqqatsi is a Hopi neologism coined by Reggio meaning "parasitic way of life" or "life in transition". While Koyaanisqatsi focused on modern life in industrial countries, Powaqqatsi, which similarly has no dialogue, focuses more on the conflict in Third World countries between traditional ways of life and the new ways of life introduced with industrialization. As with Koyaanisqatsi and the third and final part of the 'Qatsi' trilogy, Naqoyqatsi, the film is strongly related to its soundtrack, written by Philip Glass. Here, human voices (especially children's and mainly from South America and Africa) appear more than in Koyaanisqatsi, in harmony with the film's message and images.

Visual themes[edit]

In the beginning chapter, "Serra Pelada", men from Serra Pelada (a gold mine in Brazil) are seen carrying bags of dirt up to a destination. In the middle of the chapter, various shots outside of Serra Pelada are shown. Near the end of the chapter, a few men are carrying another man who was struck by a falling rock (mentioned in the "Impact of Progress" feature on the DVD/Blu-ray) uphill along a procession of workers who are carrying dirt-filled sacks. After that, several discordant layered exposures of the dirt carriers are shown. The scene cross fades to show the image of a head, with multiple exposures of the same head rapidly rotating and layered upon to give a manifold appearance. This is an apparent allusion to Janus, the god of beginnings, endings and transitions, keeping with the film's central themes of progress and change. After that, the film's title is shown in red.

In Anthem: Part 1, the sun rises up above an African village. Later, a man raises a sail for a boat. The next chapter, That Place, starts zooming out from a waterfall. Children can be heard laughing. Villages are shown as well as children and upside down water reflections. Anthem: Part 2 has various shots of villages and islands shown.

Mosque and Temple shows various natural shots as well as religious scenes. Some of these scenes are a transparent inside a church with someone walking by, a black man praying, a monk sitting while a bird flies off his stick, the same monk walking by the river, a bird flying by a sunset, more children (similar to the final scene in "That Place"), crows flying above a river, two men rowing their boat in that river, a woman praying in the Ganges river, two men practicing yoga, another monk, and a temple in Nepal.


Rotten Tomatoes reported that 63% out of 8 reviews were positive with the average score of 6.8 out of 10.[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "POWAQQATSI (U)". British Board of Film Classification. March 1, 1988. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  2. ^ "Powaqqatsi (1988)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  3. ^ "Powaqqatsi (1988) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-04-26.

External links[edit]