'Rich did I feel when I found a friend, for man is man's delight', is the ancient Icelandic line of poetry that inspired Andersson in making You, the Living. The title of the film is however taken from Goethe. Andersson's film is certainly poetic, also classic, but not in the least pompous. In about fifty tableaux, occasionally linked, Andersson looks at the way in which people behave in each other's company, how they depend on each other.
That is - even in the eyes of the Swedish master - a slightly lighter subject than in his previous film, Songs from the Second Floor, that was constructed in a similar way around the theme of collective guilt. In the visual and formal regard, the films resemble each other: the painterly and beautiful scenes have remained, occasionally comic, occasionally tragic, usually tragicomic and moving, in which the camera from a (usually) stationary wide-angle perspective observes the vicissitudes of humanity, without editing within one scene.
' Life is difficult, for each of us, and humour saves us.' Andersson's humour is never at the cost of his characters in the end. For instance he repeatedly returns to a drunkard who murmurs into the distance 'no one understands me'. The first time we laugh about it, but the repetition reveals the compassion of Andersson and the truth of the complaint. (GT)