“About Endlessness” (M) ***and a half
“ENDLESSNESS” isn’t a word frequently used by English-speakers. What’s a feasible explanation of it? Breaking it into its three parts gives an intuitive understanding. Here endeth the quick lesson.
Filmmaker Roy Andersson had no problems about the film’s main title in its original tongue. But not a lot of people outside his native Sweden would understand “Om Det Oändliga” or find that “ä” compete with diaeresis in Microsoft’s menu of type symbols (I fluked it – clue – look how it’s expressed here).
But enough of this terminological discussion. What about Roy’s latest movie? Is it drama, comedy, history, fantasy, tragedy, narrative? Well, in its 79 minutes (including credits), it manages to be all of those and more. “Endlessness” is a package viewing the human condition in all of its vagaries. Entertaining without being didactic, it’s a collection of vignettes of humans behaving in visual/aural bites that each don’t take more than about 180 seconds to illustrate on the screen (sorry, didn’t bring the stop-watch to time them).
A couple floats over a war-torn Cologne; on the way to a birthday party, a father stops to tie his daughter’s shoelaces in the pouring rain; teenage girls dance outside a cafe; a defeated army marches to a prisoner-of-war camp. A priest (one of the few characters seen in more than one vignette) laments his loss of faith and wonders how he can be true to himself when delivering sacraments. In a wordless look inside the Fuhrer-bunker, a trio of generals sits still and silent among the wreckage. That’s a powerful-enough imagery. It gets stronger when through the open door comes a man whose name needs no explanation; the little moustache tells it all.
Why should you watch this disconnected stuff on the screen? Why are you alive?
One answer to both questions. Because you are alive. Do you know a better reason? I don’t.