I have just realised that this clip, from the film Koyaanisqatsi, is perhaps the most personally important of any I have ever seen.
I first saw Koyaanisqatsi when I was 16 (the same very impressionable year I first saw Blade Runner and Apocalyspse Now) and now thanks to Interstellar, it has occurred to me how moving and influential the film has been on my whole life, not just as a filmmaker but as a human being.
Call me a hippy but Koyaanisqatsi is a piece of beauty from start to finish, making a journey across the USA using a lot of timelapse from the most astounding natural locations and gradually introducing the human race and the effects we have had on this planet with malice aforethought. It is equally excruciating in its beauty and pain (the chickens being perhaps one of the darkest moments).
The final scene, in fact mostly just a single shot, is perhaps the most stunning piece of editing ever (in terms of not editing) – and so powerful as it is the end of the film. You need to see the whole film, ideally on a large screen, with a sound system that does justice to the exquisite soundtrack by Phillip Glass, to appreciate the context. To me, the whole film, but in particular the ending, represents the folly of man’s ambition. Very similar in fact to the underlying theme of Interstellar.
The beauty of both films is that sci-fi and rockets are huge turn-ons for a young man but both films turn that on its head by rejecting technology in favour of love. In fact I remember first watching the end scene of Koyaanisqatsi and thinking “Wow rockets – that’s cool!”, whereas it is exactly the opposite emotion that prevails now and which I am sure was the intention. Nowadays, the scene brings chills to my spine and gets better the more times I watch it. I saw it once at Glastonbury Festival late at night and that was very special indeed.
The film was made 33 years ago and should be seen by everybody.
The soundtrack of Interstellar, although immense, borrows heavily from the OST of Koyaanisqatsi and I cannot believe that it was not a major influence on the Nolans (the brothers, not the sisters).
The filmmakers of Koyaanisqatsi were in fact so far ahead of their time they could actually have come from the future and may not be born yet.