Koyaanisqatsi Trailer Recreated Using Stock Footage

Vimeo // Jesse England
Vimeo // Jesse England / Vimeo // Jesse England

In 1983, the experimental film Koyaanisqatsi changed film forever. Without a verbal narrative, the film relies on slow-motion and timelapse photography, along with a frenetic Philip Glass score, to tell its story. What is that story? Ask a viewer. You'll get anything from "this was boring" to "it's about environmentalism" to "overpopulation." For me, the film is deeply personal and moving, though it'd be hard to explain what it's "about."

What makes Koyaanisqatsi so interesting to me is that its cinematography influenced the visual language of all film, radically and rapidly. Cinematographer Ron Fricke captured a bunch of new kinds of shots in this film, many of which have become copied so many times that they cliched—but before Koyaanisqatsi, we had never seen this perspective on film! It's hard to understand today how new this stuff was, because in the past three decades, it has become standard fare even in TV commercials.

Artist Jesse England noticed this and re-assembled the original Koyaanisqatsi trailer using solely stock footage (retaining the stock footage watermarks). The result is Koyaanistocksi, a two-minute trailer that proves the influence Koyaanisqatsi has had on cinematography. Check out the original and the reconstruction below.

Original Trailer

Trailer Constructed Using Stock Footage

For previous coverage, check out Echoes of Koyaanisqatsi by Ransom Riggs.