You, the Living (Du levande) (Directors Suite) (2007)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 30-Jun-2009

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Black Comedy Audio Commentary-Director Roy Andersson
Interviews-Cast-At the Movies - Andersson
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Set Design
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 89:34 (Case: 95)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Roy Andersson
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Jessika Lundberg
Elisabeth Helander
Björn Englund
Leif Larsson
Olle Olson
Birgitta Persson
Kemal Sener
Håkan Angser
Rolf Engström
Gunnar Ivarsson
Eric Bäckman
Patrik Anders Edgren
Lennart Eriksson
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Benny Andersson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Swedish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Swedish Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   

Be pleased then, you the living, in your delightfully warmed bed,
before Lethe's ice-cold wave will lick your escaping foot.

Goethe

No one could accuse Swedish film director Roy Andersson of tossing out movies left, right and centre. In 40 years of movie making this genuine Scandinavian oddity has produced only a handful of shorts and 4 feature films. His first, A Swedish Love Story, was such an enormous success that the crushing failure of his second feature, Giliap forced him into a cinematic retirement which was to last for 25 years. Instead of movies the director concentrated of making quirky advertisements. In 2000 he made Songs From the Second Floor a sometimes bewildering effort that led directly to You, The Living.

Andersson talks about You, The Living as either a tragic comedy or a comic tragedy about the human condition. This broad description is apt for a film that defies easy description. On the face of it, it is a dreamlike series of 50 individual vignettes - short slices of life (or non-life as the case may be). Some of the vignettes link up and yet others appear and disappear, taking their stories back into the Scandinavian gloom. At heart it is a cinematic foray into the theatre of the absurd.

An example: a tradesman driving through morning fog speaks directly to camera, telling us that he had a strange dream last night. The dream which he explains, and which we are then shown, is one in which he, as a simple tradesman, is invited to a distinguished household for dinner. The others are all stuffily dressed and look on impassively as the man checks and arranges carefully all the china on the large dining table before performing his party trick - pulling the table cloth off the table without disturbing the china. He fails miserably and is charged with gross negligence. The home owner gives evidence in court that he has broken a soup terrine that has been in the family for 200 years and a beer drinking court decide that the only appropriate punishment is death by the electric chair. As he is being forced into the chair his jailor suggests: "try to think of something else!"

That segment perhaps gives the greatest insight into the odd mind of director Andersson. Each of the segments is composed with incredible attention to detail. Andersson is clearly an artist and his film though bleak and very deadpan in its humour has the definite mark of an auteur.

Andersson realised the difficulty that may be involved in auditioning actors to appear in a film where they may only have a few minutes of screen time. For this reason the cast is largely amateur. The odd and stiff manner of some of the performances perfectly suit the mood of the film. A film like You, The Living encourages viewers to find their own meaning and respond to it as they respond to their own take on the human condition.

It is often funny and sad at the very same time. An old man is walking along the street with his dog. Unbeknownst to him the dog has become horribly entangled in his lead and is now simply being dragged along the road. An old man is having sex with an enormous woman wearing a viking helmet. Speaking directly to camera he details how his superannuation investments have gone very bad despite following his accountant's advice to diversify the funds. The woman carries on regardless! A young woman admires a singer/guitarist in a local band. She dreams that they marry. On their wedding night he is playing her a special tune when it becomes apparent that the landscape outside the hotel room is moving. In fact they are on train tracks and their hotel room pulls up at a train station where a crowd of commuters/well wishers give them rousing cheers on their nuptials. You, The Living is a film that will either entrance or bore the viewer. Some find it hilarious others see it as depressing and misanthropic. Find your own meaning.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

   You, The Living was shot on 35mm film at an original aspect ratio of 1.66:1. This DVD is consistent with that ratio with thin black bars at the side of the image. It is 16x9 enhanced.

The image quality of the DVD is fairly average but it is difficult to tell the extent to which that is accurate to the cinematic presentation of the film. Andersson has a superb visual sense and the film is intricately framed. However the film is depicted with a palette that is drained of colour and deliberately clinical, confirming the dreamlike quality of the film. It is beset with noise and lacks real clarity. I remember when the film came out on festival release and Variety said that the DP shot the film as if the events were taking place next to a nuclear reactor!

As said, there is a lot of noise here but otherwise the print is clean and without defect.

There are no other technical problems but the film will never be put forward as an example of DVD crispness.

The subtitles are clear and easy to read.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sound for You, The Living is Swedish Dolby Digital 5.1 running at 448Kb/s.

This is perfectly adequate, perhaps even overkill for this film which largely consists of small scale dialogues. The extra beef of the sound only becomes prominent in a couple of scenes - when a group of musicians turn up to rehearse in the middle of a violent thunderstorm and in the occasional musical interludes. The film is not a musical and yet there are numerous songs and tunes played - mainly of the jazz variety. It was to be scored by Benny Anderson of ABBA but his commitment to Mamma Mia! put that idea to rest. As it is the music gives a strange vibe to this movie with the music both jaunty and strangely sad at the same time.

Dialogue is clear and easy to hear. It appears to be in audio sync.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

This DVD contains a few key extras.

Audio Commentary by Director Roy Andersson

This track is in Swedish and consists of a interview with the director conducted by Ronny Svensson. It is a well thought out and presented guide to the film with numerous insights into the motivations and method behind the making of the movie. For a serious, quirky filmmaker Andersson is a direct and breezy affair and well worth a listen. He laughs a lot at the film and is able to give details about each scene and actor.

At the Movies Interview - Director Roy Andersson (5.01)

This short interview features various extracts from the film with some brief comments by the director. David Stratton is the interviewer but he only pops up towards the end. A nice addition but it is no substitute for the commentary.

Set Design Clip from the Lab of Director Roy Andersson (6.24)

This is an interesting featurette. The film is as much a series of sets and set pieces as it is the characters in those scenes and this short featurette shows us some of the empty sets with the lighting set-ups.

Theatrical Trailer (1.54)

A good stab at a trailer for this odd little film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   Details about other Region versions of this film are sketchy. It has, not suprisingly, been released in Sweden but the details regarding that release seem to suggest a similar feature set.

Summary

    You, The Living is an acquired taste. Those who have a love of the quirky and the absurd will find it enchanting and worth a watch and rewatch.

The quality of the DVD release is not particularly memorable but it genuinely conveys the murky world of the movie.

The extras are detailed and interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Saturday, September 05, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Not a favourite - NewcastleBoy (read my bio) REPLY POSTED