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You, the Living

You, the Living

Warren Zevon’s self-titled 1976 album (not the one with “Werewolves of London”) features a song called “Desperadoes Under the Eaves,” in which the hum of a hotel air conditioner is transfigured into a symphonic swirl of strings, the narrator’s self-pity unexpectedly rendered triumphant. I doubt that Roy Andersson listens to much Zevon: judging by the number of tubas in his Cannes-feted Songs from the Second Floor (2000) and his follow-up, You, the Living, the Swedish master is more of an oompah band man. But about 70 minutes into You, the Living, we get what would seem to be a visualization of Zevon’s contention that “Except in dreams, you’re never really free.” What appears to be a static image of a newlywed couple in their apartment is revealed as an impossibly complicated traveling shot. As the bride unwraps gifts and the punk-rock groom noodles on his guitar, we begin to notice that the countryside is whizzing by through the window at the far side of the frame, replaced gradually by a cityscape and then the faces of a crowd gathered on a railway platform.

Continue reading Adam Nayman’s analysis of this scene and review of You, the Living.

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