Fanny and Alexander (15)
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Time Out says
Tue Dec 20 2005This late gem from the Swedish maestro upped the ante in terms of autobiographical resonance, radically expanding on the way he’d often used personal experience to inflect the thematic preoccupations of his work, and anticipating scripts like ‘The Best Intentions’ which, despite being directed by others, represented events from his life more literally and explicitly than previously. Here, filtered through the eyes of young Alexander (Bertil Guve) and his sister (Pernilla Allwin), aspects of Bergman’s past are transformed not only into fiction but into a meditation on the nature and craft of fiction: the children’s experiences – first in the warm fold of a theatrical family, then, after dad’s death, at the mercy of a stern stepfather (whose Lutheran calling inevitably evokes that of the director’s own parent) – are structured largely as a series of scenes centred on watching, listening, performing and storytelling.
As such it’s a marvellously engrossing and thought-provoking film, filled with dazzling dramatic set-pieces and witty, knowing allusions to its creator’s artistic conceits and deceits. Especially when the children are subjected, thanks to their well-meaning but misguided mother (Ewa Fröhling), to the harsh regime of the Bishop Vergerus (Jan Malmsjö), the film also packs an emotional punch, so that the elegant recreation of early-twentieth-century life feels alive in a sense barely dreamt of by most makers of ‘costume drama’. True, this theatrical cut of a mere three hours is less wholly satisfying than the five-hour TV original; the narrative’s a little choppy and uneven, producing the impression of a golden oldie mix of greatest hits. Still, what hits!
Fri Dec 30, 2005