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On the Verge (of the End): Roy Andersson

“Life is a tragedy. There’s no happy end for any of us. We all die. But there’s a lot of comedy in it. There’s comedy and vulnerability.” —Roy Andersson

Master of the droll comedy, Roy Andersson is a relatively unknown Swedish genius rightly gaining wider recognition with his 2014 Golden Lion award-winning film A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence. Cited as “the most distinctive Swedish filmmaker since Ingmar Bergman” (Toronto International Film Festival), Andersson has been a major influence on a recent Walker guest, Swedish director Ruben Östlund (Force Majeure). Although most of his professional work has been in commercials, Andersson’s five feature-length films are unlike any others.

His process is meticulous (the films took 40 years to make, collectively), but are all the more rewarding, as his personally designed and constructed sets allow him to explore new camera angles and positions. His work draws from paintings, photographs, and theater—sources that enrich his loosely tied narratives with dense characters. His latest film is the conclusion to a trilogy laced with quirkiness and dark humor surrounding the plight of the human condition. Andersson’s characters experience absurd and often horrific circumstances that are disturbing critiques of our time, but they create a profound empathy for the concerns of human existence. To honor his cinematic achievement, the Walker screens his three most recent works, which he describes as a “trilogy about being a human being.”