Fanny and Alexander (The Criterion Collecton Theatrical & Television Version)
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As for the Criterion five-disc DVD: This may be the most beautiful DVD release ever devoted to a single film. The original 188-minute international release is here, of course, in all its original glory. (It won four Oscars: foreign language film, costumes, art direction/set decoration, and cinematography--the last to longtime Bergman collaborator Sven Nykvist.) An audio commentary by Peter Cowie gives useful background.
That film was carved out of Bergman's preferred 312-minute version, telecast on Swedish TV and included here. While the shorter cut remains a wonderful movie, and complete unto itself, the five-hour film is a deep, luxurious expansion. There is more of the Christmas Eve party that begins the film, more of the theater, more of Alexander's imagination. Especially meaningful is a long sequence between Fanny and Alexander and their doomed father, as he demonstrates the nature of storytelling with a simple chair.
Also here is The Making of Fanny and Alexander, Bergman's feature-length self-portrait, and a fascinating look at the rapt attention he bestows on actors and camera. DVD extras include a penetrating hourlong TV interview Bergman gave in 1984, and a 40-minute documentary shot in 2004 with reminiscences from cast and crew (including actors Guve, Pernilla August, and Erland Josephson). A handsome booklet includes essays by Rick Moody and Paul Arthur, and one disc is made up of pithy introductions shot by Bergman in 2003, for 11 of his classics, plus a sampling of trailers. Fanny and Alexander was Bergman's final theatrical film, though he has gone right on making TV movies and writing screenplays. This is a fitting treatment of his triumph. --Robert Horton
Top Customer Reviews
Set in the early years of the twentieth century, the movie tracks the fortunes of an upper-middle-class Swedish family, headed by the widow Helena Ekdahl. We first meet the Ekdahls at the exuberant Christmas feast that opens the film. Her son Gustav is a restraunteur, a lusty, sentimental man who loves his wife and paws the maids. Karl, a professor is the weak son, drunk, chronically in debt, and abusive towards his German wife. The oldest son, Oskar, manages the family theater in which his young wife Emilie is one of the actresses. While rehearsing Hamlet one winter day, Oskar falls ill, and soon dies.
Emilie is left with two young children, ten-year- old Alexander and Fanny, eight. Bereaved Emilie, still in search of her identity outside the theater, falls under the hypnotic influence of Bishop Vergerus, a handsome, charismatic Lutheran minister whose charming exterior masks a cruel fanaticism. He proposes marriage, and, in a casual but chilling aside, requests that Emilie and the children bring nothing from their former lives when they move in with him. Emilie and the children transfer from the gay, affectionate Ekdahl world to the spare, rigid Vergerus household.
The Bishop takes a special dislike to Alexander, who lives for long stretches in worlds of his own making. We learn that the Bishop's first wife and two children drowned in the river that races past the house.Read more ›
Now onto the film itself. What can I say? It's magnificent. A grand, rich and glorious tapestry of life, family, love, hate, imagination, art, fantasy, reality, religion, magic, death, faith, spirituality, God, despair, redemption, youth, innocence, maturity, old age and the supernatural. Fanny and Alexander is all of these things and even more.Read more ›
The story revolves around a wealthy Swedish family who run the local theater in Uppsala, and the severe upbringing of siblings F&A in the early 1900's (the story begins on Christmas, 1907).
Bergman seems to have a unique talent of combining drama with horror, fantasy, and comedy--this I also found to be the case with The Seventh Seal, but in F&A, this talent is more strongly presented; one minute you can find yourself laughing at humorous --sometimes obscene-- acts and remarks, and the next you may find yourself feeling choked up or horrified. The film is very strong, very real, and strongly recommended to anyone who wants to experience looking at film on a whole new level.
I cannot complete this review without giving affectionate appreciation to my friend Karen for recommending The Seventh Seal, thus inspiring me to watch this film--thank you.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting threesome film of kids left by parents to fend for their own.Published 8 months ago by ARZFAN
fanny and Alexander
this the theatrical, part of top level movie,extraordinary good
The series Fanny and Alexander very strong, very real, I watched the entire series straight through. It will hold your interest and attention. The directing and acting was good. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Brawley_Amazon Customer
Always a Classic...and always something you can recognize as abuse, and compassion.Published 15 months ago by Andi
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