Roy Andersson’s Cinematic Poetry and the Spectre of César Vallejo
ABSTRACT: Sånger från andra våningen [Songs from the Second Floor] was Roy Andersson’s first feature film in 25 years when it won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000. It exemplifies the maturation of a distinctive filmmaking style Andersson developed in two and half decades of making shorts and advertising films and testifies to his decades-long engagement with Peruvian modernist César Vallejo’s poetry. Andersson is known for his contentious relationship with Sweden’s film establishment, and his critiques of Nordic contemporary filmmakers parallel Vallejo’s similarly pointed critiques, in 1930s Paris, of the so-called “revolutionary” agenda of French Surrealists. The formal correspondences between Vallejo’s modernist poetry and Andersson’s “trivialist” cinema are likewise striking. In this essay, I argue that the spectre of Vallejo has so informed the development of Andersson’s distinctive vision and style as a filmmaker that an investigation of the interart correspondences between this unlikely pairing of avantgardists is overdue.