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The Monk Who Became a Filmmaker Documents the Soul of the World


In 1992 Godfrey Reggio directed Anima Mundi, an attempt to capture on-screen the entire force of creation.

Before being a filmmaker, Godfrey Reggio was a monk. During fourteen years he practiced the monastic demands of fasting, silence and prayer. He could not imagine that in the same monastery, and thanks to the advice of one of his fellow monks, he would make a life-changing discovery.

In a day like any other on his monastic routine, Reggio watched Luis Buñuel’s The Forgotten Ones. To that day, the rigors of religious observance had not achieved the spiritual experience that came to him suddenly through cinema. A monk was dying to witness the birth of a filmmaker.

Reggio is known around the world for his documentary trilogy Qatsi, comprised by Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi. Deeply worried for mankind’s destiny, the filmmaker from Louisiana uses his camera as a magnifying glass to evinces the contradictions of progress. The unstoppable development of cities, the degradation of the environment, the growing dependence of technology… Qatsi is a prophetic triptych about the spiritual debasement of mankind, an uncomfortable mirror where all our miseries are synthetized; but it is also a mobile tapestry where the beauty of the world is condensed and which projects a powerful beam of light.

In 1992, Reggio made the short documentary Anima Mundi. Inspired by a quote from Plato’s Timaeus, in which he affirms that the world is a living being with a soul and an intelligence, the director addressed the assignment to make a piece for the Global Nature Fund.

Through the montage of spectacular images of the natural world, and by relying  –as in his previous projects– on the music of illustrious Philip Glass, Reggio achieves a penetrating visual poem. Mammals, birds, fish, bacteria, everything is inventoried to show us the splendor and the creative power of mother earth. Awestruck by his images, we turn our gaze back towards a world we forgot while being distracted by the urban fervor.

A large feline’s undaunted gaze mysteriously opens and closes the film; its large eyes seem to observe with caution ––At once serene and afflicted, they warn us: if we go on like this, what will be left of this world in the future?


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