Feature Friday: “Anima Mundi” (1992)

Anima Mundi is Latin for “the shortest Godfrey Reggio / Philip Glass collaboration”—the third of their four “musical nature documentaries.” (The others are the Hopi-titled Koyaanisqatsi, 1982, Powaqqatsi, 1989, and Naqoyqatsi, 2002—although the less said about that last one, the better.) Reggio and Glass also sometimes get assigned Baraka (1992) but, beyond clearly inspiring it, they had nothing to do with it. (They were busy making Anima Mundi!)

Anima Mundi also means “the soul of the world,” although I think Reggio and Glass thought it means “animal world,” because that’s what the movie’s mostly about: animals. (That above image is the opening shot, a kind of counterpoint to the footage of people staring into the camera in Powaqqatsi.)

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Brevity, part 7: Slow Motion

Note: This post is partly a reply to a question someone asked me, back-channel, about slow motion, but also partly due to my general interest in how time works in narrative, and in brevity and stasis (and “the ongoing”).

Slow motion is created by presenting film footage at a slower rate than it was shot at. The principle is as old as cinema itself. In 1879, Eadweard Muybridge invented the zoopraxiscope, which allowed him to project his 1870s photographic motion studies as animations. (Film projection is, interestingly, older than film-capture cameras.) It was observed immediately that repeating the photos 2:1 (double-printing), or spinning the zoopraxiscope slowly, would slow the motion down.

An aside: In conducting his motion studies, Muybridge lined up multiple cameras that were activated by tripwires. (The motion picture camera wouldn’t be invented until 1890.) This same technique would later be resurrected as “Time-Slice” or “Bullet-Time,” popularized by the Wachowskis in The Matrix.

After the jump I’ve arranged a partial history of slow motion in cinema. It isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list; rather, I’ll point out what I consider memorable or otherwise significant uses of slow motion.

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