‘Visitors’: Trippy and pretty from the ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ director
By BILL STAMETS For Sun-Times Media March 7, 2014 1:02PM
Cinedigm presents a film directed by Godfrey Reggio. Running time: 87 minutes. No MPAA rating. Opens Friday at Landmark Century Centre.
Updated: March 7, 2014 1:10PM
Godfrey Reggio accurately describes his new film “Visitors” as “wordless” since there is no narrator or dialogue. His title is ambiguous, though. If visiting aliens and supernatural visitations come to mind, “Visitors” is really about viewers.
Our eyes look at the screen and see other eyes looking back at us. I felt like a specimen, just like all the other primates Reggio places on the screen. He populated his “Anima Mundi” (1992) with extreme close-ups of lion eyes. His 8-minute short “Evidence” (1995) featured the faces of transfixed children, letting us know at the very end what is transfixing them: television shows.
“Visitors” opens on the face of a gorilla. A black background excludes any clues of a context. Seventy or so human faces will be framed the same way. All are named in the end credits, including Triska. Her three key scenes make her the star of an alternately mesmerizing and exasperating work.
Trippy and pretty, this digital 4K black-and-white exercise delivers infrared landscapes of Louisiana swamps and lunar flyovers via digital composites. Fans of Reggie’s “Koyaanisqatsi” (1983),”Powaqqatsi” (1988) and “Naqoyqatsi” (2002) will like one more Philip Glass score cued to time-lapse and slow-motion imagery. There’s even another crash dummy.
The opening of “Visitors” alludes to the bold segue that opens “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The finale links “King Kong” to the climax of “Man with a Movie Camera,” a Russian avant-grade classic. Although Reggio translated the Hopi-language titles at the end of his three “qatsi” films, viewers of “Visitors” are on their own. He is telling interviewers it’s “autodidactic” by design. As in, you figure it out.
Non-narrative films can be opaque in deep ways. “Visitors” slips into pseudo-profundity. That said, I’d see it again.