Blu-ray Review: VISITORS

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Visitors Review


We’re betting that Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass’s previous cinematic works, The Oatsi Trilogy (comprising the films Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi), won’t be featuring too prominently on many people’s DVD shelves, jostling for position with the Back to the Future trilogy and The Inbetweeners Movie. To call Reggio’s work an acquired taste is to entirely fail to convey exactly what’s in store here; Reggio sets out to explore the nature and impermanence of the human condition and our relationship with our technology, our world and our environment. This he does in Visitors in some eighty minutes (just 74 separate shots) of black-and-white, occasionally moving images of random faces – men, women, children, the elderly – alongside abstract views of buildings, towers of rubbish, extraordinary landscapes and the surface of the moon. Oh, and a big gorilla which stares lugubriously out from the screen now and again…

Even compared to Reggio’s previous works, there’s apparently nothing going on here – there’s absolutely no narrative – but that seems to be the point. The stark, vivid imagery demands that the viewer does all the work and take away from the movie whatever individual interpretation he or she may be minded to ascribe to the film. But that alone raises some problems and inevitable cries of ‘pretentious twaddle’ and, in some respects, it’s a tough charge to resist. For those not accustomed to watching this kind of movie (and this reviewer is not ashamed to admit that this is an entirely new experience for him), Visitors is as much of a shock as it is a challenge and, as the array of smiling, laughing faces, followed by a flock of birds in flight, a derelict amusement park, an unfamiliar landscape all roll by, it’s almost impossible to resist the feeling that this is eighty minutes of your life you’re just not going to get back again. Yet despite it all, there’s something weirdly hypnotic about Visitors, underpinned as it is by Philip Glass’s compelling and atmospheric ambient score. The photography, pin-sharp in monochrome, is bold, striking and vibrant and is itself enough to keep you watching when you can’t help thinking your time might be better spent de-fleaing the cat or cleaning out the fridge.

Visitors is an interesting experience but undoubtedly one best appreciated by the arty crowd it’s aimed at rather than simple souls who just want to watch a decent movie with a beginning, middle and end. Visitors has none of these; it’s just there…

Extras: Interviews / Behind-the-scenes / Trailer

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