Sunday, July 5, 2015

Roy Andersson Reklamfilmer and the Complex Image

Falcon Bayerskt Commercial by Roy Andersson
With his trilogy on "being human" (SONGS FROM THE SECOND FLOOR (2000), YOU THE LIVING (2007) and A PIGEON SAT ON A BRANCH REFLECTING EXISTENCE (2014)), Roy Andersson has made a name for himself as one of Sweden's most original film auteurs.

While his first two narrative features from the 1970s already explored similar themes, the establishment of his signature style of one shot scenes (dubbed "the complex image") is usually traced back to his 1991 short film WORLD OF GLORY. For Swedish tv viewers it might be obvious however, that Andersson was working in this peculiarly funny style for many years as a director of commercials.

As Andersson himself wrote in 1995:
"I have not only worked on feature films, but also commercials, and there too I have worked with the complex image. I would like to suggest that it is during this work with commercials that I have realised the advantages, even superiority, of the complex image. I can find no reason to communicate something in several images if it can be done in one. I enjoy both watching and describing someone within a room - in the widest meaning of the word."

In the following two compilations of his commercials (two more are available on youtube) you can see many of his signature traits such as:
  • one-shot scenes
  • exclusive reliance on deep focus long shots
  • sickly greenish gray colors
  • the importance of offscreen sounds
  • relationship between inside and outside action and doorways
  • absurdist humor
  • and most of all disrespectful behaviour towards one's fellow human beings, especially older people and spouses.

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