Wednesday, July 1, 2015

En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron (A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence) (2014)

Director: Roy Andersson
Writer:    Roy Andersson
Cast:       Holger Andersson, Nils Westblom, Viktor Gyllenberg
Language: Swedish

Sam and Jonathan, a pair of hapless novelty salesmen, embark on a tour of the human condition in reality and fantasy that unfold in a series of absurdist episodes. 

Film starts with the statement that it is the third part in a trilogy dealing with human existence. I hadn't watched the other two and, in fact, I haven't seen any other films from Roy Andersson. He is widely rated by many of his fellow swedes and Ruben Ostlund, director of the excellent Force Majeure, is a fan. I remember him saying in one interview that Roy Andersson is bit of an unknown quantity outside his country and you could see why with this film. I think the level of enjoyment you get from this film is predicated on how well you know Sweden's history. It is not to say that you cannot appreciate the film at all without it as I did enjoy watching it even though it came intermittently.  

It is like those films where the mood that you are in determines a lot about how well you like it. It is basically showing the pathetic existence of many people in it. Happiness is something that I think should be the sole reason for one's existence. Many people compromise on that for various reasons which got a lot to do with the choices that we make out of following societal conventions. It also deals with things like exploitative aspects of Human civilization in terms of slavery and all that. There is one poignant and disturbing scene towards the end where a big round thing is rotated by having slaves locked inside and having it lit from under. Then some elite comes to watch this exercise and it is a metaphorical allusion to how wealth of West was built through Colonial exploitation. This is true even now if you consider what can now be called as Financial imperialism. Plenty of things that people from West enjoy on cheap is made by corporations that bend rules and establishes sweatshops in underdeveloped countries and also through resource extraction.

Overall the film is a decent enough watch even though it might not be up everyone's alley. Film jumps through timelines in terms of its characters even though the setting is same with regards to space and architecture. It won 'Golden Lion' award at Venice film festival and seems to very highly rated by most critics. I might have liked it more if watched it in a better mood. Anyway I am going to catch up with his other films as I have already obtained some of those.

Rating: 3/5