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<table border=0 width=80%><tr><td><font color=red>POWAQQATSI</font> – an entity, a way of life that consumes the life forces of other beings in order to further its own life.</td></tr></table>

The second film in the QATSI trilogy is released at the same time as the first in a two disc box set from MGM. These are only available in the box set i.e. not separately and are dual region coded for regions two and four (which is useful if there are any region four people desperate to get hold of these titles).

Presented by Francis Ford Coppola and the omnipresent money grabbing George Lucas, this film again like the first (<a href=;s=2&c=562 target=moo>Koyaanisqatsi review here</a>) is more of the same theme, and a tour de force for composer Philip Glass. Opening with a scene of hundreds of Africans carrying full, muddy sacks, the music begins. Chirpy drums and African chanting and a great pace lead up to the showing of the pictures title – Powaqqatsi. Now set in the Third World, this time we are shown the effects of the First World on this poverty stricken continent – pollution and alienation. We are also shown the good side of their lives like the strong community these people have, as well as the power of their strong religious beliefs.

Again as with the first film, the scenery and panoramic shots are magnificent throughout the film. The images are I think much improved from the first film. I suppose this is in the most due to the beautiful landscape where this was shot, and the visions of seeing the people doing so much manual labour is just so captivating to see. The style of directing been built upon from the previous film and a lot of slow motion footage is used. Almost everything in the first half of the film is slow motion actually which is reflected in the equable and clement score. Suddenly the film and score change to a faster pace and then the picture moves to a more industrialised world. This is followed by a collage of eighties adverts and other footage with some of the most hilarious hair I have seen for a while. Cars, hair, dancing, style – was nothing nice in the eighties? This brings the film into the First World with its gigantic buildings, motor vehicles and millions and millions of people. The film jumps from various parts of what I assume is Asia back to the poverty ridden Third World. I did enjoy the brief sped up train footage shot right on the front of the train, something for the projector I think.

Again, presented in 1.85:1 and anamorphically enhanced like its predecessor, the transfer is above average. Sometimes the reds did bleed because they are so vibrant, especially when compared to the drab oranges and browns that fill a lot of the landscape. There are not many vibrant blues and greens in the first half of the presentation however they have their moments. It was interesting to see that while some shots contained a lot of people in yellow turbans, the next shot might contain a nearly everyone in red clothing. There are quite a few scenes where one colour in particular dominates and this relatively unusual method of directing (except in Minority Report where everything is blue) here works well.

I was less impressed with the actual score in Powaqqatsi when compared to its forerunner however the audio itself is reasonably well remixed into 5.1 surround sound. During the industrialised footage, the xylophone dances around the front speakers with its echo in the rears so it sounds all encompassing. No real complaints here but it might have been nice to have an individual instrument coming from the rears however that might not have been what the composer wanted for his material. The bass levels are adequate and a few flicks of the remote put the house into “annoying neighbours mode” which is always good fun. At this level however I found a couple of the instruments high notes grated a little. Probably more the fault of the audio compression used rather than that of the original recording.

For some reason it is possible to select from nine different subtitles for this film with no spoken words. I left them on for a bit and nothing happened so I am not sure what that was for in the main feature – they are involved in the featurette however. The theatrical trailer is up next which is pretty dirty and presented in 4:3 running for just over two minutes. A tiny bit from the man I would most like to be out of work permanently in the film industry – voice over man, again does nothing to improve the trailer. Also present for some reason is the trailer for Koyaanisqatsi which is also present on the other disc. It is a better trailer than the Powaqqatsi one as it comes with better music.

Following that is a featurette entitled The Impact of Progress. This optionally subtitled twenty minute documentary features interviews with Philip Glass and director Godfrey Reggio which is interesting as Reggio talks about how it is almost hypocritical to use the latest technology to portray his eco-friendly message. This is presented in 1.85:1 which is a good thing as it also features clips of the film and I really hate letterboxed or cropped clips of films in documentaries. It also deals with Philip Glass’ increased involvement in the film in which Reggio and Glass toured the southern hemisphere looking for images to use.

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Since you can’t buy this title separately I would imagine most people will buy the set for the original film, Koyaanisqatsi since it is the better known of the two. Like Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi is definitely not something I would just watch for the fun of it and while it is not as moving as the first film, it is not as heavy going either which does make it easier to watch. The score is not as interesting however which also limits my interest in this film. At the time of writing I have seen the box set for sale online for a mere fifteen UK pounds which isn’t too much for interested parties to fork out so shop around if you are interested in this package.