Another poetic fusion of flooding metaphorical imagery and powerful music from the mind of experimental director Godfrey Reggio, this follow-up to Koyaanisqatsi ("Life Out of Balance") and Powaqqatsi ("Life In Transition") is translated (from the Hopi Indian language) as "Life As War" -- and it eventually provides chilling, voiceless commentary on man's inhumanity to man.
But before climaxing with a tense cacophony of sight (indicative juxtapositions of technological advances with primitive human nature) and sound (Philip Glass and Yo-Yo Ma in a goosepimpling crescendo of orchestral intensity), the film weaves almost intuitively though a blur of cultural and universal symbolism, ironic equations of consumerism to religion and politics, and sometimes beautiful, sometimes beautifully horrible footage of war, pleasure and other human endeavors.
Reggio's ever-evolving style in this film doesn't have the same mesmerizing quality as his previous efforts -- here he includes some already-dated visuals (CGI-generated babes) and too much repeated imagery (this guy has an ongoing fascination with vapor trails and footage of rockets taking off) -- but nobody makes more accessible non-narrative conceptual cinema.
Miramax didn't sell this one short. Good extras package includes an interview with Philip Glass and Yo-Yo Ma and an hour of footage from a post-screening panel discussion at NYU with Reggio, Glass and editor/visual designer Jon Kane. Plus trailers for the series previous two films.
SOUND & PICTURE
Crisp and clear on both counts. Beautiful transfer. Dolby 5.1.
1.78:1 ratio (16x9 enhanced)
DVD RATING: ***
THE FILM: ***
-- By Rob Blackwelder