Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Travels with my Film-Life: Sweden

We's just been visiting Sweden via Roy Andersson's film: "Songs from the Second Floor".

'Cept... it's not exactly visiting Sweden... It's... erm..
It's entering an absurdist or Samuel Beckett version of Sweden. References and flavours that crop up after I watch the film are a collection of "B"s: Bunuel, Beckett, and Pina Bausch... with a little bit of Laurel and Hardy thrown in, especially the impotent rage of Oliver Hardy.

Beautifully and painstakingly filmed, with a succession of vignette scenes played to a fixed-point camera, in only one scene does the camera move. Finding this out, I realise why I am drawn to theatrical comparisons. In the sense of viewpoint, it's as though I am watching a proscenium theatre piece.

The occasional foray into white-faced makeup makes me think of silent films; the repetition of phrases and themes ... Beckett and Bausch; the procession of self-flagellating stockbrokers, and the serried ranks of bishops ... Bunuel.

But make no mistake, this film is not just a hotch-potch of references. It is a dark, funny, surreal, coherent piece, in which characters wander through office buildings, psychiatric wards, cafes, and an urban landscape dominated by an endless traffic jam. A railway station and a desolate, fringe-urban "plain" fill out the film's setting.

Andersson took four years to complete the film. He doesn't use storyboarding to plan scenes and shots - but walks through the scenes and situations with himself, crew members, and actors - until he has built the scene and the camera viewpoint that he wants.

Music is by Benny Andersson. No relation to the director. But yes. That - Benny Andersson. The man from Abba. I'm not an Abba Girl but ... this film's music progresses around my brain as I write.

"So who is this Pina Bausch then?" ask you.

Aah... wonderful, wonderful dance-theatre maker who died in 2009. The Old Man and me managed to see performances in London and Edinburgh. In fact, some years ago, I book tickets for a performance at Sadler's Wells. The performance coincides with The Hospital calling The Old Man in for treatment of an extreme nature... and he told 'em:

"I ain't coming in til I seen this show."

And neither did he.

The last piece of hers that we were able to see...was in 2002. We'd just moved to Cornwall. But we went back up to London to catch it. And glad we were too. This is a sample of the same piece, "Kontakthof" from another performance. (Click on that link if you want to know more.)

But I digress.
I love this here Andersson film. So I tries to find a link for you to watch a sample. Here is a trailer for it... If you are not ready for "some scenes of an adult nature" as they say .... then don't click here.

No comments: