Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence: Top Winner at 2014 Venice Film Fest

A_Pigeon_Sat_On_A_Branch_Reflecting_On_Existence_1An original, Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson makes idiosyncratic films that display his unique philosophical vision and thus cannot be compared to those of any other director.

Andersson’s latest feature, “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence,” which is just as unclassificable as his former works, was honored today with the Golden Lion Award, the top kudo of the 2014 Venice Film Fest.


Like modern times’ Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Sam and Jonathan (Holger Andersson and Nisse Vestblom), two travelling salesmen peddling strange items, embark on kaleidoscopic journey, while wandering through human nature and destiny.

A_Pigeon_Sat_On_A_Branch_Reflecting_On_Existence_2Focusing on the everyday, the film consists of ordinary stories that portray existence in all its grandeur and pettiness, beauty and tragedy, exaggeration and sadness.

The film takes a panoramic view, as if told by a bird reflecting on the human condition.  This all may sound as if the film is pretentious, but it is not.

In the course of the saga, the pigeon is astonished by humans, their activities, their follies, their prides, their agitations–the meaning of which it seeks to understand.

What elevates the tale is the tension it creates between the banal and the essential, the comic and the tragic, resulting in a dialectic and dynamic view of the nature of existence.

A_Pigeon_Sat_On_A_Branch_Reflecting_On_Existence_3While suggesting that mankind is potentially heading towards apocalypse, it also holds that, ultimately, humans are in control and the outcome is in our hands, if we make the right decisions.

Though the film is not theatrical, each scene-vignette is composed like a painting, rich in texture (which is often weird and bizarre) and dense in mood. The tone of the film variegates between sardonic humor, which is intrinsic to life’s absurdities, and quiet desperation.


A_Pigeon_Sat_On_A_Branch_Reflecting_On_Existence_4Most impressive elements are its precise pacing, comic timing, and measured rhythm, which doesn’t shy away from repetition of ideas and images.


Running time: 100 min.

Directed and written by Roy Andersson


Holger Andersson

Nisse Vestblom