The very word Powaqa means a black magician that consumes the life of another in order to further his or her own life. And her or his modus operandi is seduction and allurement, but the end result is the death of one to support the life of another. It’s a predator. When you put it with qatsi, it becomes a compound word. Qatsi means life, so it means a way of life that predates on another way of life. So, the relationship with north to south, relationship of Northern hemisphere, hypo-kinetic technological zones, whose pursuit of their technological happiness requires an enormous consumption of what we call raw materials to provide the new nature that we’ve established, a new force of nature.1 So, as it turns out, many, if not most of those most important resources, exist in the handmade world of the South.
At that time, the overwhelmingly vast majority of the South lived not in big cities, but in the land that makes up their surroundings. That’s changed now since that film. So, the idea was not to say that we were in this country or that country, but to show in their vastly different cultures, a unity, a oneness of the handmade way of living, that because of technology, because of our voracious appetite, because of technology, having an infinite appetite on a very finite world was transforming their world and putting them into the intensity of urban dwellings, where they were uprooted from the land they lived in, and that’s in the film as well.
So, it tries to show that — show the handmade way of living in the beginning, and how that is then taken as a very long shot of a freight train that’s going through the state of Pará in the Amazon in Brazil, and full of resource, full of all kinds of minerals from the ground, and then the train goes on forever.2 It’s the largest train I’ve ever seen. And it takes us into the city, and what happens to those people when they go into the city. And this is all based on us having a high standard of living on what we call the standard of living, which we’ve become used to, accustomed to, take for granted. And the price we pay for that standard is war, and the devastation of the planet and other animal species and the cultures, the beautiful, unrepeatable cultures of the South.3