Visitors, the visceral new experimental film from director Godfrey Reggio, opens March 7 at Landmark's (newly renovated) Embarcadero Center Cinema in San Francisco, and Landmark's Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley. Following in the footsteps of his 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi, Visitors offers a stunning black and white portrait of human life. Shot and presented in 4K digital projection, the only audio featured in the film is the Philip Glass score. No voice-over. No interviews. No dialogue.
The 87 minute film consists of only 74 shots. While the trailer suggests that the film consists entirely of human faces and hands, this is only part of the whole picture. This experimental documentary does focus on human facial expressions reacting to digital media, and while these shots are the most powerful, there are other subjects as well. Scenes of abandoned parks and buildings, shadowed architecture, and weather-ridden swaps also grace the screen. Other memorable images include shots of the earth and the moon, as well as a female lowland gorilla named Triska.
The message is highly interpretive, but suggests themes of technology's impact on human emotion, and the greater impact that humans have on their environment. The film has more of a visual impact than anything else, and deserves to be seen in a theater. As we watch the faces on the screen changing in slow motion, the lines between subject and observer are blurred. The audience themselves may begin to experience a sensation of being observed by an unknown spectator, just as we are studying the faces on the screen.
Without drawing to much attention to itself, Philip Glass' score complements the film quite well in a seamlessly collaborate nature. Visitors is a truly unique experience, far beyond simply watching a movie. While it may not be entirely profound in its message, the films visual splendor is more than enough to captivate patient audiences in search of something more artistically progressive than your typical documentary.
If a black and white, wordless musing on life, nature, and emotion piques your curiosity, you should absolutely catch Visitors when it hits local theaters on March 7 rather than waiting for home viewing.