Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Swedish film experience

Last night I went to the cinema with my family. The film we went to see was one chosen by my wife who told me it would be very funny and worth seeing. Well, I knew the film had subtitles but I wasn't sure what the rest of it would be like. It turned out to be probably the strangest film I've seen in years. It was a series of slow paced tragi-comic sketches. The film was called "A pigeon sat on a branch reflecting on existence", it is a Swedish film directed by Roy Andersson and is the third film in a trilogy that has taken 15 years to complete. It won the Golden Lion in the Venice Film Festival last year (apparently). The cinema was not full, but it was a Monday night and it was a foreign film with subtitles.
Did I enjoy it? I enjoyed parts of it. There were certainly some funny moments but there were a lot of moments when I wondered if I was missing something. A couple of the strangest sequences really stood out.
One was a big brass drum with trumpet-like protrusions on it that British army soldiers in pith helmets led black slaves into, including one with a baby, they cracked their whips to make the slaves move faster. Then a big fire was lit under the drum and it started to rotate. On the balcony of a big house a patio window was opened and a series of elderly rich folk came out to watch the drum rotate while a waiter poured them wine into their glasses.
The other was a scene where a female scientist held a monotonous mundane conversation while staring out of the laboratory window. In her lab a monkey was pinned up with legs and arms outstretched and received electrical shocks that shook his body and made him cry out. The scientist carried on her conversation as if no cruelty was happening at all.
The only regular characters were two hapless and depressed salesmen carrying briefcases. They sold three items: extra long vampire teeth, a laughing bag and a mask called Uncle One-Tooth. The two are depicted in the photo below. Needless to say they did not sell their wares to the seated man. It's at least a film that stays with you for a while, so it's memorable!

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