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January 22, 2014
Review: Visitors

Screen-Shot-2013-07-24-at-1.39.16-AMIn 1982, director Godfrey Reggio premiered the unique "Koyaanisqatsi", a remarkable blending of imagery and music that connected with audiences on a visceral level. Collaborating with composer Philip Glass, Reggio completed his "Qatsi Trilogy" in 2002 with "Naqoyqatsi ("Powaqqatsi" came in 1988), continuing to focus on humans shifting focus from nature to technology. Eleven years later, Reggio and Glass reunite once more for another dialogue-free feature, "Visitors".

The "plot" synopsis found on IMDb for "Visitors" claims that this film looks to reveal "humanity's trance-like relationship with technology". Were it not for this blatant explanation, one would have a hard time explaining just what the point of this 87 minute hallucination was trying to say. As with almost every experimental film, the fun comes from thinking about what you saw afterwards, because while you're watching it you're too busy trying to stay awake and keep your eyes on the screen to actually formulate any coherent thoughts. Aside from some brief, obvious visual metaphors for technology - hands miming typing out a text message; fingers dragging across a tablet screen - there's really not much here in the way of technology. Mostly, we are just shown a variety of faces, close up and in slow motion. Perhaps Reggio is making a meta point about our own blank faces watching a screen that consists entirely of another face, which is staring back at us. I'm sure there's something profound in that notion, but when you've been in the same seat for over an hour and you've just looked at Face #207, you're brain isn't firing with profundity. Mainly, you're just trying to stay conscious during this flood of tedium.

Fans of highly experimental cinema will love "Visitors" because it offers them a chance to go home, close their eyes, and think. They'll think about how Glass' score affected their opinion of the face (or in some cases, building) they were viewing (think the Kuleshov Effect). They'll relish the chance to revisit every image in their mind, theorizing about why the editor chose that specific frame in that specific spot. As for me, I never noticed how much our bent thumbs look like ducks.

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Written by: Nicholas DeNitto
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