A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (2014)

Original Title

En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron


Comedy | Drama


Roy Andersson




Holger Andersson, Nils Westblom, Charlotta Larsson, Viktor Gyllenberg, Lotti Törnros, Jonas Gerholm, Ola Stensson, Oscar Salomonsson, Roger Olsen Likvern


Sam (Nils Westblom) and Jonathan (Holger Andersson), a pair of hapless novelty salesman, embark on a tour of the human condition in reality and fantasy that unfold in a series of absurdist episodes.


Roy Andersson's conclusive piece of his trilogy about human existence, "A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence" is another surrealistic journey of discovery of human nature, but it is not as successful as his earlier films.

I'll go with the good stuff first. The first shot is a brilliant explanation of the title: in a zoological museum, a visitor stops looking at a stuffed pigeon. This pigeon is sitting on a branch with its eyes looking towards a dinosaur skeleton and several stuffed eagles and appears thoughtful. Translated into words, it represents someone - the director himself - thinking and reflecting about human condition, alienation and dead relationships.

This theme is developed through a series of absurd vignettes - depressing novelty salesmen, temporal changes in Swedish history resulting in a reflection on war, laboratory cavies, a chimp in this case, left to suffer in useless experiments while humans are engaged in useless phone conversations - once again shown like a big screen theatrical adaptation, where the characters' stories pass in front of a still camera.

The film makes you reflect about the emptiness of many lives in which days just pass. Lives in which Wednesdays are equal to Thursdays, but could also be Tuesdays, because every day is the same.

Unfortunately, this film is depressing. A lot depressing actually, and it does feel like Andersson has less to say here. Instead of the brilliant satire of "Songs from the Second Floor", or the beautiful, surrealistic "You, the Living", we get a constant sense of malaise and unhappiness.

Overall it isn't bad, but the Living trilogy deserved a better ending.

1 comment :

  1. This movie was so out there. I'm still surprised I enjoyed most of it. Great write up!