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po.waq.qa.tsi (from the Hopi Language, powaq: sorcerer + qatsi: life) n. An entity, a way of life, that consumes the life forces of other beings in order to further its own life.

(Nodeshell rescue)
A film by Godfrey Reggio which, stylistically and thematically, is similar to his previous film Koyaanisqatsi.

Keeping with the meaning of the title, Powaqqatsi is primarily about the dynamic between the First World and the Third World; the First World being the "entity...that consumes the life forces of other beings" and the Third World being said "other beings".

The film goes to great lengths to make it clear that the prosperity of the First World is dependent on the exploitation of Third World labor and resources, and that the standard of living in the Third World is not an accident of history but an integral design feature of the current world order.

'Powaqqatsi' is the sequel to 'Koyaanisqatsi', and was clearly made on a larger budget, as the use of stock footage is greatly decreased. Whilst the first film dealt with the impact of the first world on the environment, the second presents a more general portrait of life in the developing world; television commercials and skyscrapers jostle for screen time with children hauling rocks.

Whilst Powaqqatis is slicker than the original, it's generally considered to be less interesting, mainly because the shock of listening to Philip Glass music whilst watching timelapse footage of cars and people had worn off. Furthermore, it seemed to have a confused moral message; it almost appeared as if Godfrey Reggio was trying to portray the heartbreaking images of starved, sleep-deprived people undertaking backbreaking labour as an uplifting tribute to the human spirit.

Portions of Philip Glass' score - although as with Koyaanisqatsi the visuals and audio are a single gestaly being - were, curiously, used in the 1999 film 'The Truman Show', as indeed was Glass himself. In the context of Powaqqatsi the music seemed oddly inappropriate; whilst that for Koyaanisqatsi was emotionally neutral and appeared to consist of ice crystals and pure adrenaline, the main theme for Powaqqatsi strikes a heroic note which jars with the images of poverty and squalor.

It's worth mentioning at this point the 1992 film 'Baraka', a similarly ambient film set to music by musical entity Dead Can Dance.

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