Songs from the Second Floor

Watch Songs from the Second Floor

  • NR
  • 2000
  • 1 hr 38 min
  • 7.5  (20,291)
  • 77

Songs from the Second Floor is a Swedish arthouse film directed by Roy Andersson that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000. The movie was made in a unique, surrealist style with a series of tableaux that tells several different stories of various people living in a modern city. It is a satire of modern society that portrays the alienation, loneliness, and desperation against the backdrop of capitalism, war, and environmental decay.

Throughout the movie, the audience is introduced to a series of disconnected characters whose lives intersect briefly. The story begins with a man named Karl who has committed arson in his furniture store because of financial difficulties. Subsequently, Karl is arrested and sent to a mental institution. The film is not limited to the story of Karl alone; the narrative jumps between several storylines.

Some of these include the story of Kalle, a travel agent whose business is failing to thrive, and he visits a mysterious witch doctor for help. Another sequence follows a man named Lennart who is desperately seeking a job that fulfils him. Meanwhile, there is a poet sharing his musings atop a pile of corpses, and a man who discovers he can levitate others by pointing at them after a failed suicide attempt.

The film employs dark and surrealist humor to illustrate the absurdity of life's challenges, and the way people deal with them. The characters' unappealing appearance accentuates the bleak and grimy portrayal of urban life, and the lighting uses bland colors and dim lighting to directly express their mundane and bleak routine.

The movie plays with the theme of contemporary existential anxiety and portrays the apocalyptic and dystopian views of modern society. The cinematography emphasizes the bleakness of the urban environment, with characteristically static camera shots that are essential elements of the film style. The film is shot in long takes that often last for several minutes without camera movement. During these extended takes, the movie creates a surreal and hypnotic atmosphere where the audience is forced to focus on the surrounding sounds and objects, such as the sound of wind, rustling of paper, and the tapping of typewriter keys.

As the stories of the characters in the film unfold, the movie's themes intensify, and the film tightly follows its plot structure. However, it is the final moments that provide the ultimate message for the viewers. The finale features an incredible and surreal sequence where a procession of people walk through the streets towards the horizon, holding each other's hands, where they create a surreal and endless passing parade with a sense of hope and transcendence despite the hopelessness experienced throughout the rest of the film.

In conclusion, Songs from the Second Floor is a movie that skillfully employs dark humor, surrealism, and social commentary to create a unique portrayal of modern life. Directed by Roy Anderson, the film's technique and structure are distinctly symbolic and iconic. Andersson's style of using long, static shots is contemporary and experimental, and the movie should be commended for its exceptional use of music and sound design. This film is recommended only for those who have an appreciation for the sheer absurdity of life and the humor that can be found within it.

Songs from the Second Floor
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 38 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.5  (20,291)
  • Metascore