Visitors

Godfrey Reggio

As the stream of images — mostly human faces filmed in black and white — proceeds, that simian observer lingers in your mind, conjuring thoughts of evolution and the balance between the rational and the bestial aspects of human nature. The film consists of 74 shots that Mr. Reggio calls “moving stills.” Most last for about a minute. The subjects are never identified.

As you gaze at these individuals — of all ages, races, and types, male and female — you realize how extraordinarily different one person’s physiognomy is from another’s. Each human is an autonomous little world, with a distinctive physical and emotional climate.

You also realize that there is no such thing as an expressionless face: The cliché that the eyes are the windows of the soul holds true. Each pair of eyes conveys an entire personal history. Even in children, you sense a primal animal cunning and aggression.

The title “Visitors” implies that aliens are the subjects. If so, might they be ourselves, the rulers of the planet but also its despoilers? Of course, all of us, with our brief stays here, is, quite literally, visitors to Earth. The word for the film is transfixing.