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“It’s so beautiful but horribly sad too.”

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I saw Roy Anderson‘s A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence on a Sunday. It’s Wednesday already, but I don’t feel like I have gone through two days and haven’t found a way to put my thoughts into words. But then again, do we really feel that days have gone by ? or are we just keeping track of what feels like a sunrise and a sunset?

Roy Anderson‘s vision of the world is very bleak. Almost like those stop-motion animated characters that look tiny in a confound space when seen from a director’s perspective. His frames feel carefully handled with an intellect of a man child playing with puppets. The characters move slowly, talk occasionally & seldom are times when they seem real. But what in life does, really?

“I’m happy that you’re fine.” Is the answer to a random phone-call that a group or disjointed characters take up. But it is Anderson’s question to the world, as he repeats this and a million other written dialogues in his film: Do people really mean that they are happy on you being fine? It’s utterly sad and incredibly true that human behavior is consumed and controlled by fake emotions that don’t mean anything until they are presented on a plate that’s half empty. People can die opening a bottle of wine and its a sad fact that we don’t really feel things.  

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Beauty is often reminiscent to laughter and happiness. But no one in the third part of The Living Trilogy is ever seen happy, except maybe the ‘laugh bags’ that the two straight faced salesman are off to sell. ‘We want people to have fun.’ they say. The film mostly revolves around these two characters & their struggle to make a living out of selling novelty items. Its a satire on existentialism, where these two people are seen going from one place to another coping up with their own differences and a business that seemed to have fizzed out on them. It also mocks the general people who have no idea what being fun actually means. 

Not many scenes in the film are comical, but the absence or scarcity of happiness or a lighter tone doesn’t take away the fact that in its bizzare & absurd vignettes , a chuckle is the most common response. Also,  the occasional randomness of the film seem to be so picturesque that when Anderson‘s busy portraying them on his canvas; making the foreground and background talk without words, they come off as essential parts and not just random gibberish. The film hence gives out the timeless essence that is not provoked by words but strong, often surreal, imagery. 

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Roy Anderson has colored his characters with a circus-clownish faces which makes the flow of the dead-pan humor even easier. The people walk like zombies who aren’t even interested in reflecting upon the mundane life, thereby giving us no preposterous answers to existence. But it makes us know what we are surrounded by and moreover – living on. There is a lot of un-related imagery in the film that doesn’t make sense in the grander scheme of things and yet feel important and essential. Two small girls fly air bubbles trying to catch whatever could be inflated and re-flown. Much like life, where we run behind catching things that won’t be our own after a little fling or a series of other similar flings. A pretty similar image of a guy groping his lover on a beach starkly refers to the same thing all together.

From being obsessed with the opposite sex to rejections or being stuck into a memory, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence is a strange, bizarre, melancholic & terribly beautiful portrayal of human condition.  It might not resonate to every one out there but if there is a place where people need to learn things through a masters’s eyes, the film is as important as a holy book in a monk’s hand. 

★★★★½

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