First-time filmmaker Godfrey Reggio's experimental documentary from 1983--shot mostly in the desert Southwest and New York City on a tiny budget with no script, then attracting the support of Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas and enlisting the indispensable musical contribution of Philip Glass--delighted college students on the midnight circuit and fans of minimalism for many years.
Meanwhile, its techniques, merging cinematographer Ron Fricke's time-lapse shots (alternately peripatetic and hyperspeed) with Glass's reiterative music (from the meditative to the orgiastic)--as well as its ecology-minded imagery--crept into the consciousness of popular culture. The influence of Koyaanisqatsi, or "life out of balance," has by now become unmistakable in television advertisements, music videos, and, of course, similar movies such as Fricke's own Chronos and Craig McCourry's Apogee. Reggio shot a sequel, Powaqqatsi (1988), and completed the trilogy with Naqoyqatsi (2002). Koyaanisqatsi provides the uninitiated the chance to see where it all started--along with an intense audiovisual rush.