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Archive for the ‘Songs From the Second Floor’ Category

Songs From the Second Floor – review – Film Comment #89

Film Comment – #89 – Songs From the Second Floor – Roy Andersson – 2000


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This is one of the most bizarre movies I have ever seen about a dystopian alternative universe, at the turn of the millennium. I’m not even sure I can explain what the film is about, but I’m going to try.

I believe it is sometime in the distant future, or perhaps the same time in an alternative universe. The film features these disconnected vignettes in which people are basically trying to survive in a time where there are no jobs, no income and the majority of people have given up on society all together. (maybe not too far in the future) People walk around pale and ashen, their is almost no movement in the streets or the surrounding areas. The film relies on this technique in which the majority of scenes are still, like a painting. A man will enter a bar and no one around him will move at all. The actual framing of the shots is quite interesting, as you are forced to take in the entire frame. There are also plenty of scenes in which the perspective seems to extend forever, never-ending, adding to the dread of this new universe.

Most of the film follows a man who’s factory has burned to the ground, perhaps at his own hands. He walks aimlessly through the streets visiting friends, random acquaintances, and family members who now live in an insane asylum. The spout profound proverbs on the horrors of life. There other quick vignettes that have small story plots (one hilarious one involves an elderly man who is visited by a group of people thinking he is part of the Nazi party, saluting them). Not all of the vignettes really intertwine together though, which is disappointing.

The film is really heavy handed, preaching about god’s absence in the world and this extreme loss of faith befallen amongst everyone. When there is nothing to live for, why should we believe in anything?

The film is really intriguing actually, and my theory is that “the second floor” actually refers to the space between earth and heaven, the space that the lost souls of the earth will walk forever, and continue to make their earthly mistakes within. There are hints to this within the film. The film is the first in the trilogy by Swedish director Andersson, and I for one will definitely be checking the other two out.

Grade: B+