05 June 2006

"World Of Glory" and "Songs From The Second Floor"

Several weeks ago, I ran across this blog posting about Swedish director Roy Andersson's 1990 short film, "World Of Glory":

World of Glory is a 15-minute tableau-film, with one and the same person in the foreground of every tableau. In the opening scene, this person stands in a huge open lot with his back to the camera, together with a crowd of people who are flocked around a closed van. They look on as naked, whitened, desperately weeping men, women and children are led and driven like cattle into the van. None of the onlookers shows any sign whatsoever of wanting to intervene. The doors to the van are then locked and a pair of men help one another to connect a tube from the van’s exhaust pipe to an inlet leading into the compartment where the people are. One of the men gives the ready sign and the van drives off slowly in circles around the lot. Towards the middle of the scene, the main character turns around and looks directly into the camera.

The post also includes a link to a bit-torrent allowing you to download the film.

(more in the complete post)

I've watched "World Of Glory" twice now, and the openeing scene still gives me an almost violently horrified feeling. The rest of the film's 15 are, incongrously, filled with black, absurd humor as the nameless lead character explains the banal details of his life to you, the viewer. (Technical note: I had to download this file- ffdshow- in order to see the English subtitles in the "World Of Glory" movie.)

Curious, I decided to get the DVD of Andersson's 2000 theatrical film, Songs From The Second Floor. It's an amazing, amazing film. Shot in the same ablau style as "Glory," this films tells the interconnected stories of a series of characters in a gray, rotting city as something- the end of the world? Fate?- is bearing down on them and driving many of them quietly insane. Here's a two-minute trailer(some nudity, RealPlayer format).

The movie is extremely, extremely slow-paced, but the longer you watch, the more you get caught up in- and nearly smothered by- the dreamlike images and stilted actions of the people onscreen. The review linked above describes one of my favorite scenes this way:

...as Kalle watches his crucifix-cursing friend head back towards the city in the distance, several of Kalle's personal demons appear from the ground in the opposite direction and slowly drift towards our hero; in an attempt to scare death off, Kalle yells and flails, and the undead lie down, disappearing into the ground, only to reappear when he turns his back. There's constant onscreen motion in this simple, prolonged take, but the camera stays perfectly still.

Click the image for a larger view of this scene:

I highly, highly recommend both of these films- it's been over a month since I watched them, and yet I can still remember almost every image from both of them, they are so burned into your brain as you watch. I see Andersson is working on a new film called "You, The Living" (click the link labeled "new feature film")... I'd love to see this one on a big screen at the theater, although at that size Andersson's images might be COMPLETELY overwhelming.


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