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Film / A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

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A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Original Swedish title: En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron) is a 2014 film by the Swedish maitre Roy Andersson which won him Leone d'Oro on the Venice film festival of the same year.

It is a freewheeling film mostly revolving around the misadventures of two roaming salesmen, Sam and Jonathan. However it is not limited to them.


Tropes

  • Arc Words: "I'm happy to hear you're doing fine." Multiple people are heard saying these words on the telephone; the film never gives any context or even shows who they're talking to.
  • Black Comedy: The driest kind possible.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: One scene has a character in a barbershop addressing the camera directly, stating that he used to be a sea captain but now he's helping take care of his brother-in-law's hair salon.
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  • Butt-Monkey: Sam for Jonathan
  • Call-Back: Charles XII, having apparently time traveled some 300 years, stops in a diner (on horseback) and demands a mineral water, while his army passes outside. Later in the film, as what's left of his bedraggled army passes by after being crushed at the Battle of Poltava again in 1709, the king again rides into the diner and asks to use the restroom.
  • The Comically Serious: The stone-faced, almost robotic manner in which Sam and Jonathan sell novelty items like vampire teeth and rubber masks is quite odd.
  • Electric Torture: What apparently is being done to a monkey in a lab in the film's most disturbing scene, as a lab worker casually chats on the phone.
  • Hands-On Approach: A middle-aged woman teaching a ballet class uses this as a transparent excuse to feel up a young male student. He repeatedly has to pull her hands off of him.
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  • Historical Domain Character: Carolus Rex (aka King Charles XII of Sweden) himself walks into a bar.
  • Inspired by…: Bicycle Thieves of all things.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: You could say that Overly Long Title can come off as pompous - then it is dropped by a little girl in a poem she wrote.
  • Leave the Camera Running: As usual with Andersson, an omnipresent trope here. The camera never moves once over the course of the film, and there are no cuts within scenes, so each scene is a "leave the camera running" moment. Each scene finishes five seconds after it is supposed to be finished.
  • Overly Long Title: It was inspired by the famous Bruegel the elder painting.
  • Random Events Plot: The closest thing to a story this has (Sam and Jonathan trying to sell joke articles) doesn't really go anywhere, and there are plenty of scenes that can best be described as individual sketches.
  • Severely Specialized Store
  • Silence Is Golden: Many scenes have no dialogue.
  • So Unfunny, It's Funny: Sam and Jonathan sell joke articles. People do not find them funny at all, which always leads to a hilariously awkward silence.
  • Title Drop: The title "A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence" is pronounced by a mentally handicapped girl from the stage where she acts in an amateur show for her mates. When she is asked what the pigeon reflects about she answers: "that he does not have any money."
  • The Woobie: Jonathan.
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