Sometimes intent muddies the experience, and I'd sooner disregard Reggio's statements about technology's "trance-like" effects. After all, here that also resembles deep symbiosis of viewer and subject, an affirmation of our fundamental human alien-ness. Trance also looks like concentration, and at its best this experience offers meditative probing into ourselves and the space around us, and is more moving for it.
Oily black and white high contrast imagery, slowed down to examine split seconds of our connection to each other and our planet. Philip Glass provides a swelling score to accompany. This film oozes visceral feeling from the combination of both. The pan through the human faces to the gorilla is particularly powerful.
If an unknown director straight out of film college had made this documentary, it would almost certainly be dismissed as hugely pretentious. Therefore, even though it is a spectacle, it shouldn't be lauded as a work of genius just because Godfrey Reggio and Steven Soderbergh have their names on it. In fact, its message is not important, relevant, new, convincing or even interesting.
A tough one to review and my rating is probably a tad unfair. As a performance and arts piece this is probably great. However, it fell very short of actually entertaining me. It's just a lot of faces which, to be fair, is great for practicing for stare-out competitions.
Pretentious as hell -- but delivers on it. An actual cinema experience without a word; moving photography with pleasant yet not overpowering images, just like the strings and as winds music in the back. I am a sucker for this type of single light source photography though, so may not be reliable. Yet, the play with, for example, light hands on black, followed by dark hands on black, where both work is grand.
And....? Beautiful images but largely predictable and lacks the energy that made its predecessors compelling. But, boy doesn't shooting in b&w add gravitas? The gorilla was the most interesting part. The humans had all obviously been instructed to stare at the camera or perform certain actions. There was a whole, unknowable universe going on behind the gorilla's eyes. Great sound track.
Visually stunning and as usual a great soundtrack from Glass as far as i'm concerned. But i don't get it. Yeah, great slo-mo shots of 'stuff' with music but it certainly isn't a documentary. Its a piece of art. And a bit boring to be honest. The Qatsi series seemed a bit more gripping (when it came out)with the high speed shots of rolling production lines and people. Meh, i don't know...see for yourself.
The b&w photography is outstanding but the film itself isn't. Since "Koyaanisqatsi" (1982), the collaborations between Reggio and Glass suffered from diminishing substance. So this is a consequent continuation of the annoying banalities we experience in "Naqoyqatsi" (2002). Glass is able to write striking film music (e.g. the scores to Scorsese's "Kundun" or Daldry's "The Hours") but this one isn't worth mentioning.