Before Songs from the Second Floor and You, The Living made him a beloved fixture of the past decade or so of European art-house cinema, and after the false start of a quickly aborted early career during the 1970s, Roy Andersson made commercials. Lots of them. If you have ever wondered where Andersson got the money and experience to give those later films such a refined visual aesthetic, these commercials for insurance, candy, beer, the lottery, and Air France should provide some answers.
Having seen Songs from the Second Floor, I can attest that the style here is unmistakably Andersson’s. Naturally, then, these ad spots are a lot weirder and funnier than what you might encounter on American television. In an interview with Vice magazine, Andersson claims that this work “taught me that a fixed image with no cuts communicates more effectively than a panning camera and hysterical editing. The latter is often a result of ill-considered or badly planned scenery.” Andersson’s camera never moves, the settings are drab, and most of the actors seem to have been selected for how plain or even unattractive they are, often being made up to appear more so. If Andersson’s features seem too sluggish or opaque, then his commercial work provides a more digestible form for his uniquely dry humor and visual palette.