Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1980s Powaqqatsi (1988)

Powaqqatsi (1988)

Having censured the old world order for allowing itself to be enslaved by modern technology in Koyaanisqatsi (1983), director Godfrey Reggio condemns it for the merciless manner in which it exploits the Third World in this heartfelt eco-documentary, whose title comes from the Hopi language expression for “parasitic way of life”.

The changing way of life for indigenous people in South America, Africa and the Far East is highlighted and the film begins with a long sequence involving dirt-encrusted workers slaving away on the muddy slopes of the Serra Pelada gold mines doing a dreadful job for not much money.

As in the original, it is an ambitious collage of images (some stunning, some shocking and some straining to make their point), combined with the futuristic music of Philip Glass.

Ultimately it’s an unsatisfactory exercise, as Reggio too often states the obvious and settles for gloss when grit might have been more effective.

Godfrey Reggio