🎬 #78 The Majesty of Wordless Scale.
The history of cinema started with documenting things that happen in reality - a man riding a horse, a train pulling into a train station. The medium was so new that people just wanted to use it - they wanted to show ‘normal’ things, ‘normal’ events. Things that were kind of invisible to everyday life. But by taking them and photographing them with the cinema camera they became fresh and new, like we have never seen them before. It’s even harder to do that in modern cinema but this week’s two films both manage to document the world in a new, powerful way - without any words or narrative placed on them. As one of their posters effectively says - ‘Until now, you’ve never really seen the world you live in.’
Happy choosing, happy viewing
FILM ONE: KOYAANISQATSI
1983 Dir Godfrey Reggio
I’ll try to keep my recommendation as wordless as this incredible film. Watching this together with the second film this week was one of those moments that really opened my eyes to the possibilities of cinema. Cinema at its most powerful - huge scale and devoid of words.
As the director once said, ‘[language] no longer describes the world we live in.’ This film shows us the world around us, made up of incredible vistas, both human-made and natural. Together with Phillip Glass’s score, the stunning cinematography makes us feel like we’re in the position of a God, observing this strange, beautiful and devastating planet.
This film, produced in part by Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope production company, demonstrates perfectly that simply ‘watching’ and ‘listening’ can move us. It can remind us how incredible the world we live in really is. Like charisma, this film influences us, it stuns us without logic.
TL;DR Sometimes we just need to sit back and appreciate the wonder of the world around us and Godfrey’s film helps us realise that.
*Available for a small rental fee on Amazon, Apple, Google and YouTube in the US and the UK.
Fact: Ron Fricke, who served as the Director of Photography on this film, is the Director of this week’s second film.
FILM TWO: BARAKA
1992 Dir Ron Fricke
Ron Fricke’s follow up to this week’s first film - takes the overall concept and expands it into even more spectacular vistas. With newer technologies, Fricke captures the scale of the world and its cultures in stunning ways that almost makes the planet feel alien. A virgin territory, a fresh discovery for our eyes.
From tribal chants to the peaceful contemplation of a snow monkey - huge swathes of the globe are covered in gorgeous motion controlled slow motion. This is a film that really envelopes your senses - every moment feels big, no matter what the subject matter of the frame is.
The film acts as a summation of what planet Earth is - a compilation of images so powerful that Roger Ebert, in his review of the film said, "If man sends another Voyager to the distant stars and it can carry only one film on board, that film might be Baraka.” If an alien civilisation had to watch their first human-made film, this is a great place to start.
TL;DR A powerful, original portrait of what it means to be a human living on planet Earth.
*Available for a small rental fee on Amazon, Apple, Google and YouTube in the US and UK.
Fact: This was the first film restored in 8k resolution.
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