Saturday, February 27, 2010

Res aldrig på enkel biljett (1987)

Sweden actually has a couple of movies with a post-apocalyptic theme, but they're not many and none of them includes rebuilt golf carts and spiked gloves. Res aldrig på enkel biljett (aka Never travel on one-way fare) is, I think, the only feature length movie from director Håkan Alexandersson. Based on a book by friend and co-provocateur Carl Johan De Geer, this is one dark fucker of a movie. Both visually and thematic. This a Sweden in the future, but almost like the cliché-vision we have of medieval times, and life is shit.

Yes, life is shit. People are cramped in the cities because there's not countryside anymore. No nature, no happiness and people are starving to death. And if they're not starving, they work as prostitutes, preachers or sadistic policemen with big axes. We follow the Investigator, a sort of private detective that do what ever people tells him to do - as long as he gets payed. One day, like in all noir-stories, a mysterious lady arrives to his office and not one minute after they are bombed and have to escaped. The woman says she's the niece of Hassan the Magician, a superstar in magic and also the inventor of the teleporter. It's a glass-coffin that magically makes you travel to the paradise on the other side of the earth, where life is good, there's food and water for everyone and there's a future. But it costs. A lot of money. But the problem is, according to the niece, is that there's no paradise. That glass-coffin only leads to death, but are people willing to believe that...?

Res aldrig på enkel biljett is probably one of the most depressing movies ever made in Sweden, but in a good way of course. There's almost constant darkness, dirt, catacombs and tunnels. One of the few scenes in daylight is on a dump, and that's just a graveyard anyway. People are unclean, and if they're not dressed in dirty clothes they are naked and fucking, or being killed. As in many Swedish movies there's a lot of ugly naked people doing what they want to do. So beware. It's a visually strong movie with amazing cinematography and cool production design. There's no futuristic environments, just very basic primitivism with axes and old guns, old buildings made of wood and bricks, no cars or visible airplanes. It's a very boring life, and people are constantly seeking help from others here, and never gets any. 

It's film-noir, but with some graphic violence and nudity. A voice are talking to us almost all the time, makes us notice small details and filling in on the back stories of some characters. It's not our hero talking, just an unknown man trying to analyze what's going on. I would say the main problem is the acting. The faces are good, but everyone utters the lines like they're in a school play somewhere. The dialogue is very stilted and theatrical, but that might have been the point too. I have no idea, but it don't sound good and it feels wrong. 

But if you ignore the uneven acting and crappy dialogue (which probably will work better with English subtitles, like the Swedish DVD have), this is an impressive and dark post-apocalyptic movie. It reminds me of Roy Andersson and Piotr Szulkin, but more pretentious. The Swedish release is worth seeking, especially for the second disc that has a six short movies (from the sixties up to the eighties) by Håkan Alexandersson and Carl Johan De Geer in the same style and theme.

11 comments:

Fredrik said...

Wow, never even heard of this one. Might check it out someday...

Alex Bakshaev said...

Glad I've read about this film!
Sounds like Tarkovsky's "Stalker" meets Von Trier's "Element of Crime" meets "The Pig-Fucking movie" - very disturbing, basically.

Ninja Dixon said...

I'm sure you will like it!

I would love to do something similar, dirty, underground, brutal... just something very black, cheap and futuristic!

Alex Bakshaev said...

I would love Y O U to do something similar, dirty, underground, brutal... just something very black, cheap and futuristic!

Johannes Pinter said...

I love this film! And I am definitely on the same track as you Fred re. doing something this dark and atmospheric. Have a bunch of ideas, and I know I got it in my blood, but it's kinda hard to get this stuff off the ground in stiff old sweden. Looking for somebody crazy enough to jump on the train :)

Ninja Dixon said...

Johannes, for me the only problem is locations! If I had one or two places to shoot such a movie without any problems I would do it :)

Johannes Pinter said...

Dixon: There must be a truckload of great abandoned places around town that one could use to shoot this kind of gritty lowbudget piece.

I actually had an idea a couple of years back called "Repo men" that included mr Dixon himself! A dark, poetic, violent, trashy black-and-white-thing about two angels walking the earth repossessing the souls of evildoing men in the most violent ways. I think it could be a cool adrenaline kick :)

Ninja Dixon said...

Well, Johannes - I'm always up for some ass-kicking ;)

I wonder where there's cool places like that? It's probably not hard to find them, but to get permission to shoot there without paying a fortune is probably more difficult... Hmm...

Joel Burman said...

Great blog! Definitively gonna follow it closer!

Joel Burman said...

Grea blog will follow it closer!

Anonymous said...

Liked the movie and you have the best line of film criticism I have ever read to by the way, "As in many Swedish movies there's a lot of ugly naked people doing what they want to do."