The Films of Roy Andersson: Songs from the Second Floor

In a 180º stylistic twist, Swedish auteur Roy Andersson reinvented himself and built the bizarre and enchanting world of Songs From the Second Floor—the first entry in his “living trilogy”—completely from scratch. Shot entirely on sound stages over four years, with weeks spent shooting single scenes, the film is visually astonishing, like being thrown into an elaborately contrived Scandinavian Twilight Zone. Andersson’s darkly comic vignettes look like massive dioramas or tableau vivants run amok, loosely conjoined by the poetry of César Vallejo and a hapless protagonist named Kalle, who trudges through the film’s unbelievable and hyperreal universe—shot in long, magnificent takes with immense depth of field—like a cartoon come to life, or a SIM avatar; uncannily like a person, yet not quite recognizable as one. This world, albeit a grim one, is spectacular to behold; with choreography that echoes Tati, nods to the existentialist absurdity of Beckett, and a look entirely its own.

Dir. Roy Andersson, 2000, 35mm, 98 min.