Being a Human Person
Winner of countless festival awards, Swedish auteur Roy Anderson (A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence) has been a cherished part of cinema for decades. Tackling cerebral subjects with a unique blend of humour and the macabre, Anderson’s life-long filmography is home to a collection of weird wonders that are adored by cinephiles the world over. His latest film, About Endlessness – which took home Best Director in 2019’s Venice Film Festival – is set to be his last, closing a chapter in film history. Thankfully, the three-year process of making his swansong has been documented by Grammy-nominated filmmaker Fred Scott in Being a Human Person.
Occupying the space between a making-of featurette and biographical documentary, Scott’s film takes us into the heart of Anderson’s creative world. Here, viewers are privy to an intimate insight into the auteur’s life, warts and all, as the film dances between Anderson’s early life and career, filmmaking style and method, and struggle with alcoholism.
However, describing this feature as a biography or featurette would be doing it a disservice. Rather, this project is a film about cinema framed from one man’s life-long passion for art. Riveting and intriguing throughout, there’s more than enough for viewers to sink their teeth into. Though, it’s hard to see this film appealing to anyone who doesn’t already have an interest in cinema.
Set almost entirely in Anderson’s Studio 24, viewers are entirely immersed in the filmmaker’s element. Seeing how his cast and crew bring his vision to life never becomes dull, even when the discussion moves to Anderson’s obsession with radiators and pipes in the set design – it’s all part of his creative process, and every facet of it is as just as fascinating as the director himself. However, the main triumph of this film comes through the deconstruction of this acclaimed figure in cinema as a man plagued with a lifetime of doubt and demons.
To those who aren’t familiar with the filmmaker’s work or have only a passing interest in cinema, the abstract philosophising over the nature of art may come across more like a dull lecture than anything else. And with no plotline holding the film together, it’s unlikely to hold a casual viewer’s attention. However, those who’ll be drawn to this film will certainly be satisfied with this intimate portrait of a legend of cinema.
Being a Human Person is released in selected cinemas on 16th October 2020.