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'Visitors': The images-only movie is, for better or for worse, completely original

Director Godfrey Reggio's new film doesn't have a narrative and consists only of images.

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'Visitors' is directed by Godfrey Reggio.


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Remember all those “Qatsi” movies – “Koyaanisqatsi,” “Powaqqatsi,” and “Naqoyqatsi”? Aren’t you impressed that I spelled them correctly? Would you know the difference?

Godfrey Reggio, who directed those films, has come back after a 10-year hiatus with “Visitors,” a movie that is as glacially slow as most of those earlier films were lickety-split. Shot in gleaming black and white and projected in ultrahigh resolution, with a score by Philip Glass, “Visitors” is an art film about – well, I’m not sure what it’s about. There’s no narrative, just a lot of linkages of imagery. Human hands, rapt faces looking at us from primordial depths, you name it. (I saw the film at the Toronto film festival with 66 members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the pit.)

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I’ve never been able to figure out if Reggio is an artist or a con artist. Perhaps, in some ways, he’s both. He has claimed in interviews that he intended to make a movie about “the wonders of the universe.” Whatever he’s made, for better or worse, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Grade: B (Unrated.)