A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (2014, Roy Andersson)

More deadpan sketches from the Songs from the Second Floor creator. Seems more despairing than funny, focusing mainly on two terrible novelty salesmen, but it’s punctuated by some crazy and memorable scenes – like when King Karl XII’s entire army passes by a modern-day bar, and the king enters on horseback – then again a few scenes later, defeated by the Russians (which actually took place in 1709). Then there’s the one scene of generous warmth and happiness, set in another bar run by Limping Lotta, who sings that she’ll trade drinks for kisses from the soldiers.

M. Sicinski:

The final shot in Pigeon, and therefore of the trilogy, involves random citizens at a bus stop, trying to help a confused man decide if it’s Wednesday. “But it feels like Thursday,” he protests. After awhile, an older man in a suit delivers the final word: “You can’t feel what day it is. Yesterday was Tuesday. Today is Wednesday. Tomorrow is Thursday. You have to keep track of these things. If you don’t keep track of that, chaos will reign.” This pronouncement, gentle but firm, is the voice of liberal democracy, avuncular but brooking no disagreement. Some of us take years to sort out what it means for us to be human. But this man knows. If Pigeon finds Andersson lost in a shell game where every move is the same, it’s probably because this voice, and others like it, are winning every time.

Won the top prize at Venice, where it played alongside Birdman, The Look of Silence and 99 Homes – and Tsukamoto’s Fires on the Plain, which has barely been heard from since.

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