A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence DVD Review

I wonder.....

The world we live in, as seen through the eyes of a pigeon. A cold, lifeless creture that has been glued to a branch. It wants to know what us mortal things do. The things that that think they are better than it, the things that claim to be advanced and unique. Cultured species that have studied themselves and everything else that is of value. There is a bar, home of drunks who reminiscence about times before and time begun. There are salesmans, who sell much but value nothing. They sell comedy as if it is a commodity that can be paid for to be funny. There are vinaigrettes on death, creatures, hearts explode and things grow old. We have songs which are all things from space and time. the dimensions are metered and in three or more scenes ideas are complex, thoughts are condensed and history is perplexed. Like the hymn in a godless world, this is film as form after narrative has been lost.

For my next trick...

Swedish cinema has at its gravitational centre a master of the modern form. Like a film leviathon that rises above all in its wake. Ingmar Bergman cast a shadow so long that until only recently, it was still falling on anyone who may dare to make film question existence. It made the meta portion a closed game and without this, cinema became a zero sum game. I love Bergman but wanted more to the jigsaw. Then came Roy Andersson who crafts films that are as complex and as simple as Bergman. He uses as his inspiration the painted image, the serene single shot, framed like an observer. There he traversed place and space. Then he duplicates or alternates between one realm and another. Form plays much into this, with an reliance on the small details telling a series of stories or ideas. Take Songs from the Second Floor as a guide and you will see how Andersson has the technical language precisely as it need be and the observational humor as anew.

Monkey business

This film is as sublime as Songs or We, The Living (these make up the ‘living’ trilogy). It is so in that it grows, like a flower into a wonderful, beautiful thing. I have watched this now five times and seen its surreal journey through absurdity and chaos dissolve. It becomes more than a piece about the immortal questions of life. The scenes often may feel like still life studies of humanity but when you decipher its opulent language, you find it has a longing as if asking what defines our experience. The very core of its quality is how boldly it struts around and how casually it waltzes into Meta country. This film has a depth in its analysis, in its catharsis. I have to say that if you are reading this, then you know what you will expect and much of what I have said will leave you aside. Take then this simple line, The sheer ability of the piece to have various layers of response alone are worthy of your time. If not also your money.

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