AKA Songs From the Second Floor (U.S. title)
by Derek Armstrong
Songs From the Second Floor, which shared the Special Jury Prize at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, is an indescribably surrealistic examination of the pointlessness of modern life in a nameless city full of directionless people. Throughout a series of unrelated vignettes, all marked by absurd black humor, the film’s characters stand witness to an utterly motionless traffic jam, the pathetic firing of a 30-year employee, a magic trick gone horribly wrong, and the failed business ventures of a crucifix salesman. Dialogue is largely absent from the film, and even where present, it usually only confounds what little expository quality there is in the narrative. The tone of Swedish director Roy Anderssen’s highly original and challenging project recalls such bleak visionaries as Samuel Beckett and Luis Buсuel, and though it certainly perplexed audiences, it also left them laughing uncontrollably.
For those seeking the freedom of a total breakdown in linear filmmaking, Songs From the Second Floor should be a gas. Being Swedish is not what makes it foreign; in fact, the Swedes who watched it probably agreed with everyone else that it came from another planet. Roy Andersson’s prize-winning essay of fractured modern existence is so weird that it’s impossible to look away from the screen. Populated by unknown actors who have very few lines, walking through a city in which everyone seems to have subtly gone crazy at the same moment, the film offers a spectrum of disjointed freak show acts. In one scene, a drunk woman repeatedly tries to climb back on her barstool, only to fail with machine-like regularity; next to her, a man in a tuxedo continually vomits. In another scene, a blindfolded girl is forced to walk a plank into a pit full of broken stones, as religious figures and dignitaries stand watch. It’s all pretty ponderous, but surprisingly funny. Adding to his already distinct visuals, Andersson frames his scenes as single shots that last minutes on end, often with bizarre traffic jams of people crawling through the background. As a result, the film slows down to molasses pace on more than one occasion — and that’s hardly the only element liable to turn audiences away. But it’s unlike anything previously captured on film, and with this kind of experimental genius/madness at work, sometimes it’s best just to sit back and absorb.
Подготовлено для публикации в интернете © Илья Тихомиров, последние изменения: 14 октября 2004 г. ¶