COMPLEX STAGING: THE HIDDEN DIMENSIONS OF ROY ANDERSSON’S AESTHETICS

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    Abstract

    In this essay I follow André Bazin and David Bordwell and their discussion of the deep-focus long-take as well as staging in depth. I have three goals. First, I engage with the style of Swedish director Roy Andersson. Andersson – born in 1943 and best known for his films Songs from the Second Floor (2000), You, the Living (2007) and A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (2014) – champions a distinctive aesthetics that involves the use of static long-takes in deep focus without close-ups, elaborate compositions and various strategies of staging in depth. Second, I aim to add to the scholarship on staging in depth as a potent, but largely overlooked stylistic device. Looking at the films of Roy Andersson can help to expand the research on staging in depth: Andersson does not simply repeat the ways his precursors have used the device, but introduces innovations and adds new thematic ends to it. In a third and final step I will look at how Andersson’s style is tied to his content and how it creates meaning. I propose that Andersson’s staging in depth may be connected to a pessimistic outlook on the loneliness of our modern life-world in which others confront us merely as apathetic bystanders. At the same time, the cinematic staging in his complex images serves a pedagogic purpose that harbours optimistic hopes. Through his style Andersson challenges his viewers to become attentive observers: unlike his characters we are supposed to watch the world – including his films – with particularly perceptive eyes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages14
    JournalMovie : a Journal of Film Criticism
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Dec-2014

    Keywords

    • Staging in Depth
    • Film Style
    • Roy Andersson
    • André Bazin
    • David Bordwell
    • Film Analysis

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