Koyaanisquatsi uses images and sound to create a picture of humanity’s impact on the earth and the conditions we are used to living in and imposing on the world around us. While the film uses footage taken at various places seemingly around the globe, the way it is put together with sound creates a subjective view of human activity over time that could be either considered progress or digression from a more pristine natural world. The film seems to take the latter view, portraying humanity as an explosive force that has changed the pace of the world and compromised the health of the earth as well as our own. Although the film presents these changes with a sweeping panoramic view through history and place, there is nothing that could really be considered spectacle in a cinematic sense. The footage is fairly raw and apparently only required editing to achieve the desired affect. There is more of an emphasis on recreating reality rather than manipulating it, although the meaning is very dependent on the way the filmmakers chose to weave all the footage together. By starting off with nature shots and an opening scene of cave drawings accompanied by chanting, the film establishes a sort of primordial peace that is later lost through mankind’s exponential growth. This change is demonstrated with shots of man made objects and structures that have become representative of modern civilization, such as freeways and malls, and societal problems, such as the gap between rich and poor. These features are included to suggest that the world has ultimately become a more complicated and even decadent place than at any other time in history because of human activity. Although this film can not be considered a cinematic spectacle, neither can it be considered a purely objective document of history.

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