A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

Original title: En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron
Language: English, Swedish
Translation: Bulgarian subtitles
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Sweden/Germany/Norway/France, 2014, 101’
Director: Roy Andersson
Cast: Holger Andersson, Nils Westblom, Charlotta Larsson, Viktor Gyllenberg, Lotti Törnros
The most distinctive Swedish filmmaker since Ingmar Bergman, Roy Andersson (Songs from the Second Floor) returns with this absurdist, surrealistic and shocking pitch-black comedy, which moves freely from nightmare to fantasy to hilariously deadpan humour as it muses on man’s perpetual inhumanity to man.

A mixture of absurdist, hilariously deadpan humour, shock, and utter horror, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence presents a series of darkly comic vignettes organized around two narrative strands. In one, two hapless novelty salesmen wander around town trying to sell their inventory of vampire fangs and rubber masks, all the while bickering like an old married couple; in the other, Charles XII, Sweden's most bellicose king, reappears in modern times to carry on his series of disastrous defeats. Shifting between nightmare, fantasy, reverie, and even an impromptu musical number, the film culminates with a blistering indictment of what Andersson presents as humanity's stunning lack of empathy.
Though he's been called a slapstick Bergman and compared to Fellini, Andersson is closest to Luis Bunuel in both his surrealist flourishes and the rage — as well as the genuine empathy and sorrow — that underlies his twisted humour. Andersson has said that A Pigeon... was heavily influenced by Dostoevsky and, like the work of the Russian master, his film is not for the faint of heart. It is an extremely provocative and very disturbing critique of our times.

Steve Gravestock, Toronto IFF


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