A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence is a Swedish movie by Roy Andersson. His director of photography, István Borbás, held a workshop about this very unusual and visually stimulating film.
Borbás explained that the movie came out of project to shoot a 90-minute wordless commercial for a political party. The idea was to shoot a movie about an egotistical society and, in addition to alienation, show hierarchy, slavery, greed and power of money. In it, space played crucial role, the Hungarian-Swedish cinematographer said:
“The space tells something about us and determines us at the same time. The space is often telling more about the characters that the lines… We did not have any script but we did have drawings. We would practice in front of the camera… so we worked as painters not as filmmakers.”
Borbás then showed a series of photographs on the slide projection showing Roy Andersson’s drawings which they used to raise funds. Also, photographs of the improvement of the setting on the set were displayed, showing various stages of a rather laborious process of set-building. The director of photography also noted that he used 75mm lenses which are closest to the human eye and that they deliberately used long shots.
Before the ending of the workshop, István Borbás showed a 15-minute short on the same theme.