2016 | XVIII (XXVII) | 219-253
Article title

Speeding Slowness: Neo-Modern Contemplative and Sublime Cinema Aesthetics in Godfrey Reggio’s Qatsi Trilogy

Title variants
Pędząca powolność: neomodernistyczna estetyka kontemplacyjnego i wzniosłego kina w trylogii Qatsi Godfrey’a Reggio
Languages of publication
The article analyzes the various ways in which Godfrey Reggio’s experimental documentary films, Koyaanisqatsi (1982), Powaqqatsi (1988) and Naqoyqatsi (2002), tend to incorporate narrative and visual conventions traditionally associated with neo-modern aesthetics of slow and sublime cinema. The former concept, defined as a “varied strain of austere minimalist cinema” (Romney 2010) and characterized by the frequent use of “long takes, de-centred and understated modes of storytelling, and a pronounced emphasis on quietude and the everyday” (Flanagan 2008), is often seen as a creative evolution of Schrader’s transcendental style or, more generally, neo-modernist trends in contemporary cinematography. Although predominantly analyzed through the lens of some common stylistic tropes of the genre’s mainstream works, its scope and framework has been recently broadened to encompass post-1960 experimental and avant-garde as well as realistic documentary films, which often emphasize contemplative rather than slow aspects of the projected scenes (Tuttle 2012). Taking this as a point of departure, I argue that the Qatsi trilogy, despite being classified as largely atypical slow films, relies on a set of conventions which draw both on the stylistic excess of non-verbal sublime cinema (Thompson 1977; Bagatavicius 2015) and on some formal devices of contemplative cinema, including slowness, duration, anti-narrative or Bazinian Realism. In particular, the images’ evocative oscillation between nostalgic neo-modernist natural and technological sublime might stem from its employment of extended shot duration subjected to slow motion as well as panoramic, accelerated and long panning shots enhanced by the atmospheric scores of Philip Glass.
Przedmiotem artykułu jest próba przedstawienia i analizy wybranych środków artystycznych wykorzystanych w eksperymentalnych filmach dokumentalnych Godfrey’a Reggio, Koyaanisqatsi (1982), Powaqqatsi (1988) i Naqoyqatsi (2002), tradycyjnie związanych z estetyką tzw. kina wolnego (slow cinema) oraz wzniosłego (sublime cinema). Nurt slow-kina, definiowany jako “różnorodny gatunek ascetycznego kina minimalistycznego” (Romney 2010) i charakteryzujący się częstym użyciem “długich ujęć, zredukowanych i powściągliwych modułów narracji, oraz ekspozycją ciszy i codzienności” (Flanagan 2008), jest często postrzegany jako kreatywna ewolucja stylu transcendentalnego Schradera lub, szerzej, tendencji neomodernistycznych we współczesnej kinematografii (Syska 2014). Chociaż atrybuty tejże stylistyki analizowane jest głównie w dziełach wiodących przedstawicieli gatunku, takich jak Tarkowski, Bergman, Bresson, Antonioni czy też Sokurow, ich obecność dostrzegana jest również w eksperymentalnym, awangardowym oraz realistycznym filmie dokumentalnym (Flanagan 2012), który w większym stopniu kładzie nacisk na kontemplacyjne aniżeli wolne aspekty ukazywanych scen i motywów (Tuttle 2012). Tymczasem analiza materiału filmowego autorstwa Reggio pod względem ww. cech gatunkowych może prowadzić do wniosku, iż trylogia Qatsi, będąca atypowym przykładem slow-kina, dosyć wyraźnie wykorzystuje konwencje oparte zarówno na stylistycznym nadmiarze wzniosłego kina niewerbalnego (Thompson 1977; Bagatavicius 2015), jak i walorach kina kontemplacyjnego, takich jak spowolnione tempo, trwanie, anty-narracja czy też realizm typu Bazinowskiego.
Physical description
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