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World of Glory (Opening Scene)

A plain, ordinary man tells us about his work as a real-estate broker, his dead father, his ordinary home and so on in a naturalistic voice, lacking any emotions.

10 – 15 | 1990 | Drama | Live-Action | Sweden | War | 1990

(by Adam Nayman via Reverse Shot

Note: Roy Andersson’s World of Glory is avaiable online without permission. It is officially avaiable on the Cinema 16: European Short Films disc

“The opening scene of World of Glory is a reconstruction of events during the Second World War and of the total brutality which marked “ethnic cleansings”. That term did not exist then, it was called the “final solution”, but meant the extermination of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and political dissidents. Human beings were put to death by, among other methods, gassing in diesel-driven, closed vans. The gas from the motor was piped into the storage compartment. These vans were the forerunners of the gas chamber.”Roy Andersson

And there you have it: the opening shot of the 1991 short film World of Glory as explained by its director, Roy Andersson. In three agonizing minutes, the shot—which is static and meticulously detailed in the manner of Andersson’s subsequent, millennial-anxiety masterpiece Songs from the Second Floor—describes human beings being put to death in a diesel-driven van. We see them huddling together naked before the door is closed by a lumpy little man (he kicks the loading ramp into place when it gets stuck) and the hose attached to the exhaust pipe is inserted into the compartment; we hear their screams grow frantic and then faint as the van drives away towards the back of the frame. It circles in the distance as the assembled witnesses—pale people with no discernable reason for being there—take in the atrocity with blank stares. Cut.

Tommaso Fagioli

Tommaso Fagioli

Founder @ Good Short Films. Fond of great stories, great thinkers, great food. My motto is: your motto.

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