A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
by Roy Andersson
I feel bad. Everyone says it’s a brilliant movie (and one of my favorite directors - Alejandro González Iñárritu is championing it in the States) and yet I am bored and annoyed with it.
The film comes across as if the exquisite form of the narrative isn't really sticking to its content. Except of one truly terrifying scene (a bizarre dreamlike killing slaves/art musing) most situations feel extended way beyond their thin premises. The tableaus are beautifully staged and then not much happens.
OK, OK I know I am supposed to be excited about the grotesque, the ugly and yet emphatic, the surreal, about the stretched out dry wit, but c'mon: it’s 2015! Haven’t we talked many, many times before about „how fucked up we are”, about the fact that "life is weird and we are pathetic and caught in self-inflicting dramas"? Yes, we have. Yes, we have (that's a movie quote, I think:-)
I know, there are only 25 narrative situations and art is not about saying anything new but about saying it in a new way. Fair enough:
So, are we indeed so jaded that have to be jolted by theatrical, repetitive tricks? What would Bunuel say about this film? Wouldn’t he laughed that it’s too forced, too staged, too much in love with its own aesthetic „illuminations”?
I suspect the director has been drunk on the excitement coming from him chasing poetry, which as a creative process is indeed very tasty. But in order to serve such a dish to others one should work harder. (O boy, I can hear already your thinking - yeah, Pawel smart- ass, why don’t you than show us how to do it better. I don’t know how, I am writing it as a consumer only. I bow my head to the director’s technical abilities which are indeed awesome. But so what that he stages and manipulate space beautifully if the substance of his talk is suspiciously thin - to me, that is.)
Then I searched for some Andersson’s interviews. Came up with this quote about Bergman:
„He’s always battling with his relation to God. Sometimes I think it’s not very serious, it’s hypocrisy. He’s not really honest about his battle with God, its just good stuff for a movie!”
Really? That’s preposterous. Maybe pushing the strained thin absurd musings about how pathetic we are is equally hypocritical since it could be also called „just good stuff for a move”.
Clearly, poetry is hard. Dry wit poetry is even harder.
A coda: I really liked his previous installments of the Human Trilogy. I thought that in „Songs from the Second Floor” and in „You, the Living” his scenes were right on.