Comedy Movie

Sånger från andra våningen A cautionary tale for the end of the millennium

At the Cannes Film Festival in 2000, when Chinese films were on the rise, an unheralded Swedish film won the Jury Prize in the “Side Awards” category. The film was “Song from the Second Floor”. It has not been in the limelight of the critics like other award-winning films of that year, but has been hiding in some second floor attic, occasionally emitting a “sorrowful song from the second floor”.

As far as I know, the director Roy Anderson is from the advertising industry, and he was good at making some strange short commercials before he started filming. Unlike directors like David Fincher, Stamsin and Ning Hao, Roy Anderson’s films seldom contain any fashionable images that overwhelm the main visual effect, and his films have very few commercial elements. He has made only four feature films in his thirty years of film production: “Swedish Love Story” in 1970, “Love in the Journey” in 1975, “The Song from the Second Floor” in 2000, and “You Are Alive” in 2007. With a very low production, he demanded perfection from his films, and “The Song from the Second Floor” alone took five years to make. There was a serious break in his creative process, and after two films in the 70s, he was silent for almost 30 years before finally coming up with his masterpiece “The Song from the Second Floor” in the millennium.

The Song from the Second Floor” is Roy Anderson’s standard masterpiece for his return to the film industry after 2000. After 30 years of baptism and sedimentation, his film finally presents the ultimate existence of a film form that can neither be borrowed nor surpassed by himself (2007’s “You Are Alive” is too similar to “The Song from the Second Floor”, or even the same film). His thoughts on human civilization have all been transformed into his unique video style, which is notable from two angles: the use of long shots and the collage of short stories.

The first is to ensure a complete record of the dramatic relationship within the scene through reasonable scene scheduling, or to guide the suspense, which is the long shot theory proposed by Bazan, like Orson Welleson and Hitchcock belong to this category. The second kind is a more complex situation developed from Bazan’s theory, which is usually a kind of display of the relationship between people and the environment. In the East, it is Hou Hsiao-hsien’s stream, which uses fixed long shots to show the emotional precipitation of the integration of people and the environment; in the West, it may be Tarkovsky’s stream, which uses moving long shots to reveal the mystery of the operation of the whole world. But either way, the relationship between the subject in the picture and the surrounding environment (mostly natural environment) is usually based on realism, and a long shot that is detached from the relationship with reality is theoretically untenable. Roy Anderson’s long shots are completely different from those used by other famous masters of the long shot genre, and his long shots are somewhat detached from realistic relationships in a way. The scenes shown by the camera are not strictly based on the reality of the relationship of the scene, but are simplified, symbolic distortion: for example, the interior of those companies, such as the 2012 Noah’s ark as if the embarkation registration, such as the end of the world of alternating yin and yang wilderness. These scenes are constructed in a way more like a stage play, but the difference is that Roy Anderson’s scenes are rich in depth, and the audience should not only pay attention to the dramatic relationship between the characters in the foreground, but also the matching and extension of the rear scenes are an integral part of his scenes. The parade, the traffic jam outside the window, and so on. The whole film is almost composed of fixed wide-angle long shots (only one moving shot), the choice of camera is mostly panoramic, in order to cover all the elements in the picture as much as possible, so that the perspective is more like the audience in the theater to watch the perspective of the play, plus its unique scene processing, the film’s taste of theater is very strong. And the actors’ performances, standing is also very much in line with the effect: there are always a variety of characters scattered in the corners of the picture, and in addition to the protagonist in the foreground to present an obvious dramatic relationship, the other characters are mostly standing around, as symbols of the existence of the dramatic relationship that occurs in the foreground. If you look at it this way, Roy Anderson’s long shot intention is very obvious, which is to implant the absurd theatrical viewing style into the audiovisual elements of the film, and on this basis, through the actual light and shadow, longitudinally improve the audience’s experience of this alienation.

Short-form collages are not uncommon in film, and if used in the works of other directors the way they are presented is likely to be multiple threads running in tandem, or the parts may be independent and self-contained. How the story is laid out depends a lot on the character of the text. In “Song from the Second Floor”, based on the use of long shots, one shot is a scene and one shot is a scene. But in the film, the characters and their dramatic relationship are not shown in a space as fully as in a stage play, but usually open the door and go directly into a situation, and cut off before the dramatic relationship unfolds, deliberately leaving some introductions and clues. There are about 4,5 clues in the film, these clues are staggered, messy scattered in the film, you can not see what the connection, Roy Anderson deliberately blocked these sub-scenes which may appear in the logical relationship, even if there is also very careful, so that people do not notice. And in these several clues outside, more similar to the girl sacrifice, ghosts floating such and other clues completely okay with the independent fragment presented. At this point, the chaotic short story collage is not the common way of leading vertically around a certain theme, but a horizontal, pictorial social picture. In this somewhat surrealistic social picture, people from all walks of life, all sorts of ghosts and spirits come together to present a terrible, irrational apocalyptic scene under the chaos of the chaos.

Scandinavian countries like Sweden usually lack human communication, human indifference is the main quality there, and this characteristic is also implicitly penetrated into some of the Nordic films. Roy Anderson is a typical example of this, he thought deeply about human civilization, and the future development of its serious pessimism: in our era of loss of love, loss of faith, in the material interests increasingly replace the spiritual world of the environment, people will gradually become like those in the film the walking dead with empty bodies. The film is as cold as a cemetery scene abounds, and the constant appearance of ghosts is a lingering eerie chill, so that the process of watching the film will often feel that dark and depressing. Roy Anderson has a grotesque imagination, he put these imaginations through the way of absurd theater to lay out, as he issued a doomsday warning to the world at the dawn of the millennium, with such a surrealist picture full of doomsday to wake up the lack of love, lack of faith, lack of spirituality of the world. The title “The Song from the Second Floor” probably means this: the only brother in the film who still has a sense of love but has lost his speech and become crazy under the indifferent society is locked up in a mental hospital, and the “song from the second floor” coming from his hospital room becomes Roy Anderson’s call for beauty in this pessimistic and desperate human society.

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