Quick, what do the following have in common? Crashing waves, shooting stars, Olympic athletes, mushroom clouds, roiling streams of computer numbers, wax figures of Arafat and Mandela and Bush, a montage of world citizens smiling in slow motion? The answer, of course, is…everything and nothing.
If Microsoft and Nike ever merged into one corporate megalith (MicroNike?) and commissioned Leni Riefenstahl to direct its visionary new Super Bowl commercial, the result might look something like Godfrey Reggio’s Naqoyqatsi. Far more than Reggio’s earlier two ”qatsi” films, this one, subtitled ”Life as War,” offers a message of doom: The fused forces of technology, information, and aggression are imperiling the planet. Well, yes, but the fun of the movie, and its unintended irony, is that with its fetishized synthetic graphics and burbly Philip Glass score, ”Naqoyqatsi” turns the impending apocalypse into the lightest of sensory candy.