Koyaanisqatsi (1982) was the first movie I was introduced to when I set out to ‘study’ film. Our lecturer stuck it on a projector and I instantly frowned, my inner monologue disparaging the ‘pretentious cinephile’ before me – a curious impression as it was Godard’s Le Mépris (1963) that first sparked my interest in the cinematic arts.
Anyway, my lecturer came, saw, and conquered us philistines. Imagine sticking this bantz on to a class of clueless teenagers in a community college. I was stunned. The movie confirmed that aesthetic perfection could be gleaned from both the grim and the glorious, that mere montage could be both l’art pour l’art and didactic narrative. I struggle to describe this movie to people who haven’t seen it. In the words of that tubby philosopher Laurence Fishburne: ‘You have to see it for yourself.’