Following on, naturally, from my ‘Green movies‘ post a few days ago …
Inspirational ‘art’ Documentaries
The ‘Qatsi trilogy:
- Koyaanisqatsi (‘life out of balance’) 1982 (RT) (IMDb) is a visual concert of images set to the haunting music of Phillip Glass. The feature-length documentary is visually arresting and possesses a clear, pro-environmental agenda but no story, dialogue, or characters. It is composed of nature imagery, manipulated in slow motion, double exposure or time lapse, juxtaposed with footage of humans’ devastating environmental impact on the planet.
- Powaqqatsi 1988 (IMDb) (RT) similarly explores technologically developing nations and the effect the transition to Western-style modernization has had on them.
- Naqoyqatsi: Life as War 2002 (RT) (IMDb) is a montage of our contemporary world dominated by gobalized technology and violence. It is obviously the least appealing of the three, but sometimes ‘appealing’ is not what we need to see.
All three have scores by Philip Glass; that may or may not be a plus for you, depending on your musical tastes, but I find his style ideally suited to the slowly evolving cinematic sequences.
Baraka 1992 (RT) (IMDb) stems from Koyaanisqatsi in that the director here was cinematographer there. IMDb says: “It begins with morning, natural landscapes and people at prayer: volcanoes, water falls, veldts, and forests. Indigenous people apply body paint; whole villages dance. The film moves to destruction of nature via logging, blasting, and strip mining. Images of poverty, rapid urban life, and factories give way to war, concentration camps, and mass graves. Ancient ruins come into view, and then a sacred river where pilgrims bathe and funeral pyres burn. Prayer and nature return. A monk rings a huge bell; stars wheel across the sky.”
Movies by Yann Arthus-Bertrand:
- Earth from Above 2004 (IMDb) Stunning aerial shots of our planet.
- Home 2009 (IMDb) With aerial footage from 54 countries, Home is a depiction of how the Earth’s problems are all interlinked.
- 6 Billion Others 2009 (IMDb) is “The outcry of people whose lives have already been devastated by the impact of climate change, as well as the wake-up call of the scientific community.” As such, it veers into my ‘Activist documentaries’ category.
The Dancing Forest 2008 (home page) (IMDb) From IMDb: “A small village in Togo refuses to wait for outside aid to make its way out of poverty and ruin. With tools in hand, its men and women, mixing traditional agricultural knowledge with modern techniques, provide a timely lesson on how we ought to harmonize with nature and build a sustainable relationship with the land. The Dancing Forest offers a quiet space in which to reflect on some of the many urgent questions facing mankind: How are we to address the inequities of the widening global divide between rich and poor? How are we to define our economic relationship with the environment?”
This is by far the largest category so I will merely commend Last Chance to See 2009 (IMDb) (also a TV series) to those who haven’t seen it, direct you to a filmography of David Attenborough’s work with links to individual movies (RT) and suggest that you try http://naturedocumentaries.org/ and/or Youtube when you’re tired of Attenborough.
Some movies in this category have explicit political or social agendas, of course, and all have an undercurrent of, ‘Isn’t the natural world wonderful! We really should look after it a bit better.’ Engendering that attitude is pretty much my own motivation in compiling this this list and, indeed, blogging.