Robin Solsjö Höglund’s review published on Letterboxd:
Saturday night, juggling ideas of things to watch, why not begin the experimental "Qatsi trilogy" of documentaries?
In this first installment ("Life out of balance" in the Hopi language) we see imagery, mostly from the United States, filmed in the early 1980's, of various states of machinery, pollution, overpopulation, urban stress and industry growing to a frantic pace greatly aided by the fantastic score by Philip Glass. In fact, I think this film would be very little without that score, one that most people may have heard a glimpse of somewhat recently in the trailers for the Zack Snyder film adaptation of Watchmen.
As a whole, I can't deny that there is a powerful, almost hypnotic allure to the "doomsday screensaver" on display, and it feels even more relevant now than before. As I understand it, the two later installments grow even more technologically relevant, but one at a time.
Would I be lying if I said I sat glued to the screen for every single minute however? Yes, definitely. With a work like this it isn't exactly "observe every nuance or you'll lose sight quickly", you get what it is the film is trying to achieve quickly and even if you glance away now and again the overall impression is still fairly similar I wager. There is no conventional plot, no voices, no dialogue, no characters, no "entertainment" value save for that kind of..stare you enter into, a portrait of life a mere forty years ago that has grown ever prescient in today's world, and perhaps a fourth installment in this film series would be the most powerful of all.