Review (Spoiler Alert)
When I walked into the screening I had no idea that SEAT 26D was an animated feature. I couldn’t understand why the director, Karolina Brobäck, has made the choice of using slower frame rate that made everything go in slow motion. Even the makeup looked like as if they were painted to look like mannequins. At one point I thought that was an active choice to portray Scandinavian, and in particular Swedes, as introverts and not easy approachable, with cold walls and barriers around them. But later I did figure out that it was an animation.
The film tells the real story of a horrific accident from 1991 – the crash landing of flight SK751 headed to Tokyo from Arlanda International Airport, Stockholm. When the narrative starts you cannot guess what time period we are exactly looking at. Until the end of the film I was under the impression that it supposed to be 1950s or 60s. The art direction and clothes have that ambiguity that you cannot pinpoint until the credits start to roll, if you are not already aware of the real incident.
The scene that leads up to the engine failure and the ‘quite-before-the-storm’ sequence has a déjà vu feeling about it. Not to fault the filmmaker or the choices, but one cannot help but make comparison to the nail-biting scene from 2004 American TV series LOST and the crashing sequence. Due to reasons unknown the artistic choices made while sound mixing the crash sequence in SEAT 26B are least to say confusing. At no point a single person screams or shouts. Not a single person moves from their seats or panics. And that does not made the audience clench to their seats and lean in. We are already aware that the narrator, now an adult, is retelling a traumatic childhood experience and it’s not difficult to figure out that whatever happens the main character is going to be fine.
One can hypothesize that no shouts or panic from the passengers is a social commentary on the modern Western Europe countries and their political climates. Year after year parties like Swedish Democrats (SD) have gained more and more power, and within a short span of time have re-branded themselves from a national joke & international embarrassment into Sweden’s third strongest political party. People have openly talked about their disapproval and said ‘Nej’ but they have also let them prosper. We all have avoided everything possible to nip the growing intolerance, bigotry and inequality that are the core foundations of SD.
The simplest and also easiest thing is to do is to look away from the screaming child that throws a fit in public at the candy stall, and let the parent deal with it, and don’t even make eye contact with the child or the parent – because IT IS NOT your RESPONSIBILITY. Take care of yourself, pay your taxes and then look away. Have a drink, or five, strap in tight and look for that airmask to fall off any second and put it on. Put it on tightly and hold on to your seats and to your hats, because shit is going to hit the proverbial fan any minute and the world that you walk over is going to split right under your feet. And when that earth moves and shakes the core of your foundation and hundred-thousand kroner lives we all have built around us, we all will be left helpless. With nothing to hang on to, but our seats. No one to share it with, but ourselves. And no where to go, but to look at the new ground that have been just paved for us, that we don’t like or even recognize, right in front of our very own eyes.