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December 10, 2002 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-12-10

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December 10, 2002





Godfrey Reggio's avant-garde
trilogy ends with 'Naqoyqatsi'

By Curtis Hiller
For the Daily

"Naqoyqatsi" is the final "Qatsi"
trilogy installment from director God-
frey Reggio. The title is a Hopi word
signifying "war as a way of life." The
film is preceded by "Koyaanisqatsi"
(1983) and "Powaqqatsi" (1988). Yet,
there is some question as to whether
"Naqoyqatsi" can hang with these
other masterworks. The first film had a
beautiful and distinctive

look created with
incredible slow and fast
motion shots of the
world at large by Ron
Fricke, the film's cine-
matographer. Despite a
new cinematographic
team, film number two
strayed not far from this

At the M

even videogames. Also dotting the
film's visual landscape are computer-
generated scenes that seem unprofes-
sional and weak at the outset but in later
scenes graduate to hackneyed and com-
monplace. Digital effects and overlays
too, are no stranger in the film. For the
first time in the trilogy, exposing cellu-
loid just isn't enough for Reggio. A
microscope shot of wriggling sperm
must slowly become a digitally affected
shot of hundreds of wriggling, naked
babies (perhaps where the
film's PG-13 rating
comes from). As if this
weren't straight forward
enough, corporate logos
QATSI including Enron's, and
ichigan celebrity footage, includ-
ter ing former successful
49ers quarterback Steve
nax Young and the not-so-
successful-anymore star
of "Watching Ellie," Julia Louis-Drey-
fus, are included in the film's over-use
of stock footage.
But where the computer effects and
archival images are somewhat of a fail-
ure, Reggio has not entirely forgotten
the formula that gave beauty to his
visions in the past. An amazing subtlety
can be found in the slow motion, black
and white portraiture of buildings and
people near the beginning of the film.
Though somewhat abstract, there is a
gracefulness in the laughing, smiling

format, but honed its
focus on post-colonial existence.
"Naqoyqatsi" is standing somewhere
off to the side: the startlingly dissimilar
black sheep in the set.
"Naqoyqatsi" is uncharted territory,
as far as the trilogy is concerned. It fully
embraces computers and television in a
way previously belied by the simple and
beautiful everyday imagery of the other
two films. Comprised of 450 images,
according to Reggio, it feels as though
most of them must be stock footage
from television, the previous films and

faces that is akin to the numerous pan-
ning close-ups of giddy children posing
for the camera in "Powaqqtsi."
Phillip Glass' unwavering attention to
minimalist detail is again present in his
work too - owing much to the fact that
a great deal of the music is merely
rewritten and arranged from the previ-
ous films. The music does include
excellent new material as well. A beau-
tiful cello solo, played by Yo-Yo Ma,
and a soprano solo reminiscent of the
track "Vessels" from the first film are
among the offerings. As with the other
films, the soundtrack is inseparable
from the images. There is a certain
music video quality to them that dic-
tates the necessity of one for the other.
Reggio states in the DVD extras for
"Powaqqatsi," "I don't feel that it's
contradictory or hypocritical to use the
very medium that you're questioning."
This statement very much informs and
shapes "Naqoyqatsi." Throughout the
trilogy, Reggio has shown a world
where the circumstance of being
human has become one with a transi-
tion from the natural world into a
world of technology. Translating the
titles of the films in sequence yields a
passage from "life osut of balance" to
"life in transition" and finally to "war
as a way of life."
Progressing beyond the simple
graphical comparison of street maps
and circuit boards in the first film,
"Nagoyqatsi" steps heavy-handed into
the very realm it condemns: the tech-
nological world. And yet the military
imagery in this film is no more an
indictment of mechanical warfare than
those images of similar ilk in "Koy-
aanisqatsi;" the war that is being con-
demned is not between countries but
between man and nature. But it is this
same heavy-handed approach, saturat-
ed in digitally constructed images and
stock footage, which breaks down the
effectiveness of Reggio's earlier for-
mula of simplicity in presentation. Per-
haps the subject dictates the approach,
but in the end,'watching "Koyaanisqat-
si" twice is probably more enjoyable
than being slapped with "Naqoyqat-
si's" bluntness.




By Jeff Dickerson
Daily Arts Writer



Courtesy of Mir8max

One of the many riddles in "Naqoyqatsi."

LLlII PItH THl futLflhJIiI

Video games have come a long way since the golden
age of "Pong" and "Space Invaders." What began as sim-
ple entertainment for children and young adults has
turned into a vast media empire, worth an estimated $9
billion. The video game industry is indeed a serious busi-
ness these days, surpassing the profits of even Holly-
wood. The year 2002 in video games got off to a sluggish
start, but ended with a flurry of excellent titles on all
three gaming consoles. After careful deliberation, here
are the best offerings from the past year in gaming.
10. NBA2K3 - Sega - PS2, Xbox, GC
The competition between Sega and EA in the sports
market has greatly benefitted the basketball video' game
genre, and "NBA2K3" is the best one yet.
9. Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance - Konami
- Game Boy Advance
. If only all portable games were this good. "Harmony"
is another worthy entry in the prestigious lineage of
"Castlevania" titles. While last year's "Circle of the
Moon" was dark and muddled, "Harmony" brightens up
things with sharper graphics and splashes of color.
8. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City - Rockstar Games
- PS2
Perhaps the most anticipated video game since "Super
Mario Bros. 3" debuted on the original Nintendo system,
"Vice City" followed up the mecha-popular "Grand Theft
Auto 3" in retro style, transporting its hero to the neon-
filled streets of Miami. Sadly, the game feels more like a
rehash of "GTA3" than a true sequel, candy coating the
same gameplay in a faux new '80s package.
7. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 - Activision - PS2,
Xbox, GC
You would think after the perfection of "Tony Hawk 3"
Activision would have hit the glass ceiling of extreme
sports simulation, but the fourth installment of the best-
selling skateboarding series manages to stay fresh while
maintaining the fundamentals of its predessors.
6. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - Nin-
tendo - Game Boy Advance
Yeah, it's cheap to put a port of a Super Nintendo game
in the top 10 of 2002, but when that port is "A Link to
the Past," arguably the best in the "Zelda" series, such
declarations are warranted. The inclusion of the multi-
player game "Four Swords" is an added bonus for those
who have already mastered the original SNES game.
5. Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance - Konami -
"Substance" is little more than a redux of last year's
"Metal Gear Solid 2" smattered with various supple-
ments to substantiate another purchase of an espionage
adventure. Thankfully, the hundreds of VR missions and
the aptly titled "Snake Tales," exclusive side quests fea-
turing Solid Snake, offer enough new material for hard-
core fans of the series.


1. Here is
Justin Bailey
from "Metroid."
2. One of the
characters in
the bizarre
3. Mario makes
the leap to
GameCube in
4. "A Link to
the Past,"
good, but not
as good as
"Zelda 2."
Courtesy of Nintendo


Sell your Books at

4. Mario Sunshine - Nintendo - GameCube
While "Sunshine" is hardly as innovative as the Italian
plumber's last outing, "Super Mario 64," the game raises
the virtual bar for platform gaming, courtesy of Miyamo-
to's brilliant level design.
3. NCCA Football 2003 - EA - PS2, Xbox, GC
EA's acclaimed college football series gets better with
each passing year, and "NCAA Football 2003" manages
to even surpass the quality of EA's other pigskin simula-
tion, "Madden 2003."
2. Animal Crossing - Nintendo - GameCube
At first glance, "Animal Crossing" looks like a
hybridization of "Pokemon" and "The Sims," but once
you get past its childish appearance you'll find one of the
strangest and addictive games in recent memory. "'Cross-
ing" makes brilliant use of the GameCube's internal
clock to create a unique video game experience at any
time of the day.
1. Metroid Prime - Nintendo - GameCube
Simply put, "Metroid Prime" is one of the finest video
games ever made. After an eight-year hiatus, Samus Aran
returned in her first new adventure since "Super
Metroid," and in grand fashion at that. "Prime masterful-
ly made the difficult transition from the side-scrolling
action of yesteryear to the lavish 3D exploration of mod-
ern gaming.



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