Roy Andersson, a Swedish filmmaker known for his experimental yet simple approach to aesthetic and his humorous perspective on the destructive nature of human behavior, communicates a deeply rooted and concealed issue alive throughout the world today in his film Songs from the Second Floor (2000). Through this dark-comedy/drama film, the dread and existential crisis affiliated with the feeling of complete hopelessness, the act of contributing to your own destruction, and the steps taken that lead an individual to completely break down and begin attacking their own self identity as well as the unity and security of an entire country is communicated. These concepts are revealed through the instability of the character’s relationships, the reactions to destructive behavior, and the loss of the stable foundations that seem to shape their lifestyles and identities entirely. Andersson’s portrayal of our world as a dystopia through Songs from the Second Floor gives insight as to what our faith is built upon and awakens our sense of despair as we recognize our own society within the destruction shown throughout the film.
Employment status and one’s contribution to the economy and industry are crucial factors when determining success and approval. Many individuals structure their lives around a job they are either working towards or already have in order to feel validated and useful to both themselves and those around them. This not only puts immense stress upon the individual to maintain their performance to their own standards but also introduces the risk of potential loss of stability and control if the opportunity or role in the industry is taken away. Throughout the film, Songs from the Second Floor, the importance of labor, employment, and a successful business or economy is evident. The society shown in the film and the individuals introduced are extremely dependent on the trust they have implanted in their industry and businesses. The characters seem to fail to understand the temporary state that jobs and money holds and completely disregard the qualities of life that bring authentic happiness and healthy joy into their lives. The economy in the film is presented as unstable and the community is struggling to cope with the loss of their most treasured foundation, the trust and dependency they have instilled into their jobs.
One of the main characters, a middle aged businessman invested in his work and ritual lifestyle, is introduced in the beginning of the film. He is shown shining his shoes in preparation for a meeting with his boss and debating with his wife about missing work to spend the day with her. He quickly declines his wife’s offer to spend the day together and states that he hasn’t missed a day of work in fourteen years, ending his rebuttal with everything has its day. This infers that while the man may hope to take a day to himself at some point in the future, his current lifestyle and obligations won’t allow it. This reveals that labor and work is in high demand as well as the rewards that are granted to those that work hard and produce positive results for the economy.
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