DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Songs From the Second Floor
Songs From the Second Floor
New Yorker Video // Unrated // March 23, 2004
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Robert Spuhler | posted May 5, 2004 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
The Movie:

Songs From the Second Floor has to be the potential to be a very divisive film. Nothing seems to happen in its 98 minutes. There's no linear sense of a story or plotline. More than anything else, the film seeks to establish an emotional atmosphere through which we see Andersson's musings on the abuse of power and isolation.

Andersson is a very famous commercial director in Sweden whose last feature film, Giliap, debuted 25 years prior. Songs From the Second Floor is set up like a series of long commercials, with scenes being so self-contained that nearly any one could be a short film of its own. It leads to a disjointed viewing experience, one without enough common threads to propel the film forward.

Songs gives the viewer glimpses into the lives of everyday Swedes: A magician after a trick goes wrong; a jiled lover; an immigrant attacked on the street; a loyal employee let go. All of this prepares us for Karl, a small furniture storeowner who burns down his store for the insurance. Karl sees his life and the world falling apart around him thanks to the cruelty of others – or is it just their sense of self-preservation?

The audience is not given enough information to make that determination, as the story leaps around while managing to never really go anywhere. The idea of the film, Andersson says in the DVD commentary track, is "trivialism" – life as a series of trivial components, each of which can be examined to find more profoundly true aspects of our existence.

The DVD

Video:

Songs From the Second Floor is presented in anamorphic widescreen. The picture is soft at times, but pixelation is rare (easy to achieve in a film with as little movement as this). The typeface for the subtitles can be difficult to read, though, as the letters are much taller than they are wide, giving them a crammed-together appearance.

Sound:

A simple stereo track is all that is provided, but also all that is necessary for the film.

Extras:

There is a feature length commentary track with director/writer Andersson and Ronny Svensson, who is not identified with having a role in the film. Svensson is there to act as interviewer on the track. It is entirely in Swedish with English subtitles. Andersson is interesting at times, breaking down each scene and helping to make sense of the sometimes-dense material. That he felt the need to interpret every scene, though, flies right in the face of one of his first statements on the commentary, "To me, it's pretty straightforward. Simplicity was my goal."

There are four deleted scenes, each with an explanation as to why they did not make it into the final cut. Two of the scenes were not included at all, while the other two did make their way in, just in different forms.

The most educational featurette shows three of the scenes as works in progress, including how precise the actors' blocking had to be. Since Andersson rarely ever moves the camera in the film, each actor had to hit his or her mark exactly in order to get across the image the director wanted. In a five-minute scene, it can be quite a challenge. There's also two minutes of behind the scenes footage.

The theatrical trailer included on the disc is one of the oddest I've seen. There is no dialogue, just the score and two second clips from every scene in the film, in the order they are presented. More coherent trailers are provided for Trembling Before G-d, Life and Debt, Chaos and Kandahar.

Final Thoughts:

There are messages scattered throught Songs From the Second Floor, but anyone in 2004 America will not be surprised by the ideas. Corporations are unfeeling. Commitment can be painfully and unfulfilling. People do mean things to other people, even those they love, sometimes for strange reasons. Life can be lonely. It takes Andersson 98 minutes to tell the audience that, but it is not anything new.

Popular Reviews
1. Eastbound & Down: Season 4
2. Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXX
3. Scanners
4. Bob's Burgers: Season 3
5. Heaven Is for Real
6. Shogun
7. Noah
8. Rio 2
9. Transcendence
10. Insomnia: Criterion Collection


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use