Powaqqatsi, the highly acclaimed 1988 documentary film by visionary director Godfrey Reggio, is the second installment in the powerful Qatsi trilogy. This critically-acclaimed work of art takes a deep dive into the traditional lifestyles of third world countries being rapidly transformed through industrialization. Through its captivating visuals and thoughtful direction, Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation shines a light on a “parasitic way of life” – or in other words, “life in transition” – experienced by many indigenous people around the world.
The film immediately immerses viewers in a stunning montage of vignettes that showcase how cultural norms are shifting as technology becomes ever more pervasive. From factories to farms, audiences bear witness to people who struggle to adapt to their new environments while maintaining their cultural identities. We can see everything from tribal dances to urban mass transit systems during this thought-provoking commentary on globalization and modernity.
In comparison to its predecessor Koyaanisqatsi (1982), which explored modern life in industrialized countries, Powaqqatsi examines the impact of immigration and technological advancement on more rural communities across Latin America, Africa, India, and China. It does so without relying on dialogue or narrative voiceovers: instead it speaks through its use of awe-inspiring cinematography and mesmerizing musical score composed by Philip Glass.
The result is an unforgettable cinematic experience that serves as an eye-opening look at both the beauty and despair often found within these regions today. So if you’re looking for a unique way to learn about how our world is changing before our eyes, then watching Powaqqatsi is definitely worth your time!