Comedy Movie

You, the Living Be content, people who are alive

When you break down the European films from different regions, you can find that they are so very different. The poetic mirror of Eastern Europe will not be produced in the British Isles, and the warm Iberian Peninsula is far away from the cold Scandinavian Peninsula. Just like the climate, Scandinavian films are born with a “cold” temperament. Cold can be noted as calm, cold tone and cold color, from Sweden’s Ingmar Bergman to Finland’s Aki Görlischmäki. In Roy Andersson’s “You’re Alive”, cold can also be described as “cold jokes”. Roy Andersson has been called the “comic version of Ingmar Bergman”, and his works look quite serious at first glance, but there is dark humor and absurd scenarios everywhere. But it is not appropriate to call Roy Andersson a cold-hearted joker, he does not pile up jokes to make the audience laugh, this cultured and funny old man likes to take a dig at the Swedes and satirize the society and culture in his films, and it does not hurt.

Roy Andersson’s first feature film dates back to 1970, and 2007’s “You’re Alive” is his fourth feature film. The gap is nearly forty years, which equates to one film every ten years or so, which is certainly understandable as slow work. Throughout his career, he has not moved away from the crowd, run away to a small island to live in seclusion or stay away from Sweden. During the one or two decades he was not in the film business, Roy Andersson started companies and studios and made numerous short films and commercials.

You’re Alive is a feature-length film made up of many small characters: doctors, barbers, middle-aged and elderly couples, young girls and boys, a bar where people have nowhere else to go, an amateur marching band that doesn’t mind funerals. They live in the same small town, but their activities are not necessarily linked to each other, and can even be divided into separate short episodes.

Like Finland and other countries, the Swedes are materially affluent and live above all else, but “You’re Alive” does not reveal a Swedish society of “yellow hair and pleasure”. On the contrary, people do not smile, slow, the most common thing to do is to dwell and whine, to cope with the gray life full of trivial trouble and loneliness and boredom. Whether rich or poor, polished or not.

They do not look particularly different in appearance, with more or less the same annoying things. Typical characters include: a fat lady who sobs and screams “no one understands me, not even a ghost”, who periodically comes out and repeats the above words; a middle-aged man who has a nightmare, who ruins a banquet and is sentenced to the electric chair after a lamentable execution; a couple who quarrels and hurts each other with their words. A quarrelsome couple hurt each other with their words, and each of them is sad; a doctor who has listened to a psychiatric patient for 27 years, he is too exhausted to continue; a tuba player who is riding on his wife’s body, while chanting about fund losses and bad luck to lose money …… The strange situations of life of all people are shown one by one in the film, as if the lack of these small fights, life is more like a pool of stagnant water. The film also features what is probably the most amazing part of the film. There is probably the most magical section of the film: the girl Anna, looking around for Miko, looking forward to reuniting Anna. She has a warm and magical dream, wearing a white wedding dress, doing the honeymoon, waiting for the welcome people to offer their blessings. Even if it was a surreal daydream, it was so beautiful that the audience wanted to applaud in unison. And that’s not even including the crowd-runners who, with their stiff or slow-motion facial expressions or physical movements, form a small-town anecdote with the clue characters above.

Like “A Song From the Second Floor,” “You’re Alive” consists of one long shot after another, several minutes in length. Once again, Roy Anderson uses almost motionless wide-angle shots, with the characters occupying a small proportion of the frame, thus emphasizing the cool interior scenes and the minimalist furnishings. Many parts of the film rely on the actors’ lines, changes in positioning, and changes in music, thus testing the viewer’s ability to understand and grasp details (such as the swastika on the tablecloth, the drummer who speeds up the beat). Like the moving house in the film, You Are Alive is like a stage play with a moving backdrop, which can be switched at will to tell the story of the boredom and bad lives of the different characters in the play.

You’re Alive” eliminates the possibility of cheesy humor, and there are no faces or antics to tease you. Some of the dark humor even needs to be recalled to feel the meaning, as if listening to the first time of a cold joke is not yet a reaction. The director presents a glimpse of life on a cold gray tone, and exaggerates and expands it, visualizing it. Eliminate the illusion of dull and slow images, and have more patience to match up with the little people like molehills, you will find that the film has so many distinctive features. You Are Alive is the kind of film that makes you take one look at it and decide that it is Roy Anderson’s unique style among the dazzling images of different films.

A sudden thunder and lightning and heavy rain arrive, as only then do people living in a small town realize that the world around them is changing, as a counterpoint to the loose and unchanging nature of everyday life. If you’re still alive, you can’t help but worry. Life makes you laugh, and that’s normal. In the middle, the familiar proverb “Tomorrow will be a new day” is spoken by a character. Even if the life in front of you is unbearable, Roy Anderson says those of you who are still alive, be content.

The people look up and are shocked by the swarms of bombers flying over the small town. This is the open ending of “You Are Alive”, echoing the nightmare of “bombs falling” of the man at the beginning. One day you will look up and see the planes coming, will that be the end of your life or a joke from God? The film opens with Goethe’s poem: “Be content, O you who live, in that warm and comfortable bed, before the cold wind of the river Leutze lashes your fleeing feet (the river Leutze in the underworld, where people cross and forget their previous lives).

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