Autobiographical Scene Number 6882 (Ruben Ostlund, 2005, Sweden)

Before he was a two-time Palme d'Or winning director, the provocative Swedish auteur Ruben Ostlund directed this short film - Autobiographical Scene Number 6882. The film is deceptively simple, running at only 8 minutes in length. The film takes place among a group of friends during Midsummer's eve on the west coast of Sweden. The film centers on a young man named Martin. As the group of friends, slightly drunk, pass over the bridge, Martin thinks it would be fun to jump into the river 100 feet below. An old man passes and warns them that another man died jumping from that same spot.

At first, it seems like the group has abandoned the idea, but a comment from one member of the group sparks Martin to prove himself. The film is filled with a palpable sense of dread and unease that Ostlund would explore so masterfully in later works including Force Majeure. The entire short film is essentially filmed from a distance, a stylistic choice that lends a cold and distant lens to the activities we are seeing on screen. Like Ostlund's influence on Michael Haneke, this lends a clinical approach to the material which suits it very well. 

Like many of Ostlund's works, the film is an exploration of wounded or threatened masculinity. We also see how essentially what begins as a low-stakes scenario can turn into a life and death scenario quite quickly - another staple of Ruben Ostlund's work. Autobiographical Scene Number 6882, while perhaps not a masterpiece, is an excellent journey into male psychology and a clear indication of the strong filmmaking that would come from Ostlund in future films. It is worth it not only for fans of the director but also for fans of short films who will appreciate the buildup of tension throughout. 



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