songs from the second floor consists of pieced together moments that paint a bleak picture of apocalyptic world. during each one of them the camera does not move, occupying a single spot, at times everything is still, acquiring a quality of a painting (so many of them are stuck in my mind, at first being too bare, as I watched them, but later on acquiring more and more enigmatic appeal, as my mind goes over them again and again - the view from the window on top floor of the building, the endless traffic jam, the "christ salesman", the asylum, the dead russian boy looking for his sister, the singing subway car, the "moving building"). there is absurdity, despair and emptiness, but there is also a touch of humor in every one of them. there is no this intentionally "artistic", dramatic quality to his work - it is not gritty or dazzling, like I have expected it to be (I have imagined something along the lines of terry gilliam after seeing the previews) - at times it promises those qualities, but chooses a different path (and at first this was quite annoying).
the director's background in commercial work does reveal itself in these little sketches - very memorable compositions and visual trickery that is a property of any well-done ad on television (unmoving camera and grotesqueness and exaggeration being some of the tools he used). the mood of the film slowly grows from comical to more and more spiritual, becoming almost allegorical. in a sense this is lars von trier's dogma, taken to the point where overabundance of reality finally negated itself and created this world, where non-actors (the only thing that is real) are awkwardly placed, moved in a strangest ways and engage in most bizarre acts. this provokes all kinds of cultural references - some of the more ritualistic (andersson does have a soft spot for big crowds watching, unmoving, observing) pieces reminded me of nietsch's carefully planned theatrics (interestingly enough), his absurdity and drawn-out pace brought up beckett's plays where nothing really happens. one can also find a tribute to bunuel's talent for mystification - some of the shots and compositions were very recognizable.
it would be interesting to notice that the music in this film (it never really becomes loud, ever-present mix of classical tunes and strange funkiness, almost indiscernible on the background) was written by one of the abba members. surprisingly enough, it was quite fitting, although I would not mind more prominent classical parts, as well as more discrete, more chaotic restructuring of the main music themes.
roy andersson's semiotics might lack the dazzling flashiness and perfection of more popular counterparts, some of his ideas might be very vague, or simply lacking, but somehow the feel of his world gets underneath your skin, hides in the corner of your eye and remains with you for a long time, adding its own touch to everything around you. if nothing else, it makes your mind spin its wheels, building upon his imagery, inventing interpretations.