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Review: World of Glory-Glorious is the Earth (1991)

Director: Roy Andersson | 14 minutes | short film | Actors: Klas-Gösta Olsson, Lennart Björklund, Christer Christensen, Bernard Eiger, Rolf Engström, Gun Fors, Udo Kühnapas, Hans Söderblom,

Roy Anderson’s short film “World of Glory” (1991) immediately starts quite confronting: A screaming, naked child is towed into a truck. The charger is full of frightened children, who have no choice but to wait for their fate. As soon as the last child has been loaded, the doors are closed. Before the truck drives away, a trunk is first connected from the exhaust to the ventilation grille: the children are gassed alive, while a large group of people stand and look at them. One of those people is the main character in “World of Glory”, a fourteen-minute about what guilt can do to a person.

After the shocking first scene, in which the protagonist stares intently at us at the end of the take, the image goes black. Then we meet the man, who not only introduces himself to us, but also his wife, brother, son, sick mother and deceased father. He also takes us to work – the man is a real estate agent – and gradually shows us his dull life. We know from the first scene that something terrible must be gnawing at this guy’s conscience, but he tries to show it as little as possible. Andersson shows us his life in fifteen short takes. The stately takes are relentlessly sober and presented to the audience in a very dry manner. After each take, the image turns ominously black for a short while to build up the tension. Because of course someone who has kept up appearances so anxiously for so long, has to burst the bomb sometime. That happens, but in a way that suits the rest of the movie: bloodless and restrained.

“World of Glory” leaves room for various interpretations (criticism of society – see also the irony in the title), but that repressed guilt feelings play a central theme, it is clear. Because of its cool, detached sobriety, this is not immediately one to hold in your heart. Most people will need some time afterwards to interpret the film. But with this short film, Andersson certainly offers food for thought.

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