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American composer Philip Glass has scored over 100 films. So far seven of his features and one short are a part of the Criterion Collection. He's one of my favorites, so I thought I'd make this list.
Cross-references to my other lists are included in the notes.
Personal statistics: S=Seen, D=Own on DVD, *=non-Criterion edition. Totals (including ANIMA MUNDI): Films 8, Seen 8, DVDs 6.
12/16/14: Added THE THIN BLUE LINE
12/17/13: Added A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME
This is the film that really launched Glass's career, especially as a film composer. He had scored a handful of short documentaries and experimental films prior to this one and had gained some notoriety for his 1976 opera EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH, but KOYAANISQATSI is the film that put him (and director Godfrey Reggio) on the map.
1985 (S) Cross-reference: Greenaway 2
I haven't seen this since its original release, and I wasn't crazy about it back then. The score however is perhaps Glass's single greatest composition. Essential listening, if not viewing, though I suppose I should revisit the film.
1988 (S/D*) Cross-reference: Hints
The QATSI trilogy was an exercise in diminishing returns. Each film wasn't quite as impressive as the previous one, but they are all interesting and well worth seeing. This is one of Glass's more atypical—though still brilliant—scores. The lovely Reggio/Glass short film ANIMA MUNDI (1992) is included on this disc too.
1991 (S) Cross-reference: Hints
Documentarian Errol Morris has collaborated with Glass three times, producing three excellent movies featuring some of Glass's most impressive work. These are the first two, which were followed by THE FOG OF WAR (2003).
In 1994, Glass composed the ambitious opera LA BELLE ET LA BÊTE to accompany this exquisite fairytale from Jean Cocteau. The singing is actually synched up with the actors' dialog. Not an easy task, but the results are wonderful (I was fortunate enough to see this performed live). Definitely watch the original version first, but the opera, which is included on this disc as an alternate track, is an incredible re-imagining of the film. The Criterion site includes Glass in their Explore>People pages, but neglect this one. Glass also composed works inspired by Cocteau's ORPHÉE and LES ENFANTS TERRIBLE. (In a similar move, Glass also wrote a score for the 1931 film DRACULA, which is available as an alternate track on Universal's DVD or BD.)
2002 (S/D*) Cross-reference: Hints
Definitely my least favorite of the trilogy. Reggio shot nothing at all for this film: it's composed entirely of found images. An interesting idea, to be sure, but the results are unsatisfying here. The score however is one of Glass's best and features the legendary Yo-Yo Ma on cello.