Fanny and Alexander (15)

Film

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Time Out says

Tue Dec 20 2005

This 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!
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Dec 30, 2005

Duration:

189 mins

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E A Dobson

`you can`t escape me` I can only comment on the 3 hour version,i doubt i will ever see the full 5 hours but don`t feel a need to.This was truly great and totally unforgettable filmmaking.I`ve just started with some of his other films,Smiles of a Summer Night,Persona,Wild Strawberries & The Seventh Seal so far and although i will be avoiding his bleak side,it`s clear,he`s one of cinemas greats.

E A Dobson

`you can`t escape me` I can only comment on the 3 hour version,i doubt i will ever see the full 5 hours but don`t feel a need to.This was truly great and totally unforgettable filmmaking.I`ve just started with some of his other films,Smiles of a Summer Night,Persona,Wild Strawberries & The Seventh Seal so far and although i will be avoiding his bleak side,it`s clear,he`s one of cinemas greats.

Technoguy

I saw the 5 hour preferred version,which was how it was released on tv(like Scenes from a Marriage) instead of the 3 hour theatrical version.made as his swansong to his film career.He imbues childhood with all the warmth and magic he possibly could.This film could have been called merely 'Alexander' but as it stands she is his ear,foil and sister in solidarity. Bergman has made a semi-autobiographical film only he has changed the order of things around a bit.He came from a severe Lutheran background in which he was very repressed by his pastor father.In the film he is not born into this family,it is his step-family,that his mother marries into when her actor husband dies. The children having formerly come from a big extended bohemian family of actors have to suffer the rigours of their new,cruel Pastor father who chastises them to separate truth from fiction.The contrast between the old household of the heart and the new household with it's tones of black and white couldn't be more different.The children are helped to escape in a chest by a friend of the family.The mother-by now pregnant- can only get away later after sedating her husband.The large family is reunited and babies are born,one to a maid by a philandering uncle.The pastor dies in a house fire.You feel in this film although Bergman speaks of God,faith and utilizes ghosts he has cast out the tormenting demons of his youth as he glorifies the magic of art and the imagination.The tone throughout is light hearted,the colour schemes are beautiful and the cinematograhy exquisite.An actress-Harriet Anderson-plays an elderly nanny who scares the young siblings with frightening stories.The lady who plays the grandmother is a famous Interpreter of Stindberg who gets to read for a part in his 'Dreamplay' in the closing scene with young Alexander lying on her lap.this can be compared to the best of Bergman and placed alongside the two trilogies.A fitting end to a great career.

Technoguy

I saw the 5 hour preferred version,which was how it was released on tv(like Scenes from a Marriage) instead of the 3 hour theatrical version.made as his swansong to his film career.He imbues childhood with all the warmth and magic he possibly could.This film could have been called merely 'Alexander' but as it stands she is his ear,foil and sister in solidarity. Bergman has made a semi-autobiographical film only he has changed the order of things around a bit.He came from a severe Lutheran background in which he was very repressed by his pastor father.In the film he is not born into this family,it is his step-family,that his mother marries into when her actor husband dies. The children having formerly come from a big extended bohemian family of actors have to suffer the rigours of their new,cruel Pastor father who chastises them to separate truth from fiction.The contrast between the old household of the heart and the new household with it's tones of black and white couldn't be more different.The children are helped to escape in a chest by a friend of the family.The mother-by now pregnant- can only get away later after sedating her husband.The large family is reunited and babies are born,one to a maid by a philandering uncle.The pastor dies in a house fire.You feel in this film although Bergman speaks of God,faith and utilizes ghosts he has cast out the tormenting demons of his youth as he glorifies the magic of art and the imagination.The tone throughout is light hearted,the colour schemes are beautiful and the cinematograhy exquisite.An actress-Harriet Anderson-plays an elderly nanny who scares the young siblings with frightening stories.The lady who plays the grandmother is a famous Interpreter of Stindberg who gets to read for a part in his 'Dreamplay' in the closing scene with young Alexander lying on her lap.this can be compared to the best of Bergman and placed alongside the two trilogies.A fitting end to a great career.