In preparation for the Austin Film Society's Ruben Östlund series, we went through a lot of Östlund's interviews and found, not surprisingly, that the man is a YouTube nut in a big way. Once you pinpoint the YouTube influence in his films it is easy to see how his shot composition, use of long takes and emphasis on awkward and embarrassing moments is aesthetically indebted to YouTube videos.
Here are a few YouTube videos that Östlund has identified in interviews as being influential on his work.
You'll recognize this hyper-dramatic, hyper-proficient accordion (bayan, actually) performance from FORCE MAJEURE. It is a piece by Vivaldi played by the Ukrainian bayanist Alexander Hrustevich. Just hearing this piece will take you back to the slopes and into the world of FORCE MAJEURE.
The final sequence of FORCE MAJEURE is based on this video of a Spanish tour bus driver lurching down a curvy switchbacked incline.
The avalanche sequence in the film is based on this pulse-pounding sequence in which a real, controlled avalanche appears to consume a ski resort.
The scene where Tomas cries in the hallway was inspired by this harrowing man-weep from a reality TV episode.
Östlund's earlier films are also informed by YouTube videos. He cited this nature video as a favorite and we can see how it may have influenced his films PLAY and INVOLUNTARY. (Warning: cycle of life, etc...)
Here's another one that he has cited as an influence on his work. A cab-driver who went to the BBC to interview for a job is mistaken for an IT expert and hustled before a camera. He plays along as best he can. It's awkward but it also makes us reflect to what extent we are all doing this to some degree or another in our lives.
To put it all into perspective, here is Östlund on the last video here: "I once saw this YouTube clip about how much we know about the universe. The camera zooms out from Earth to about eighty billion light years away or something, and I realized the triviality of family conflict is meaningless, ultimately. But when you’re close to the situation, the feelings of shame are very powerful. I like to be able to step out of the situation and put it in context—to show that there are other conflicts that are much more important than the relationships we put so much time into.")
Thanks to Michael A. Gonzalez for research.