Though the not-so-still-life pictures in Koyaanisqatsi are impressive, the film's power stems from the union of Reggio's images and Philip Glass' soundtrack. Originally composed for a live audience at the theater, the music -- hypnotic and baroque, with repetitive keyboard motifs, blasts of shining brass, and ethereal choral episodes -- adds a startling layer of humanity to the movie, essentially rounding out its theme: If we care, there's still time to right the scales.
By today's hyperreal standards, the cinematography of Koyaanisqatsi seems almost quaint. Meanwhile, the daily news arguably proffers more unbalanced imagery -- Dubya's war on terrorism, Ashcroft's beat-down of civil liberties, open season on the planet's natural resources -- and the Internet and biotechnology have reshaped the human experience into something barely imaginable when the film debuted 19 years ago. Yet its message is still a call for awareness and empathy, the same emotional connection Glass embodies when marrying live music with celluloid story.