A young woman, Karin, has recently returned to the family island after spending some time in a mental hospital. On the island with her is her lonely brother and kind, but increasingly ... See full summary »
Max von Sydow
The title characters are children in the exuberant and colorful Ekdahl household in a Swedish town early in the twentieth century. Their parents, Oscar and Emilie, are the director and the leading lady of the local theatre company. Oscar's mother and brother are its chief patrons. After Oscar's early death, his widow marries the bishop and moves with her children to his austere and forbidding chancery. The children are immediately miserable. The film dramatizes and resolves those conflicts. A sub-plot features Isak, a local Jewish merchant who is the grandmother's lover and whose odd household becomes the children's refuge. Written by
All three of the Ekdahl sons are named after Swedish kings. In fact, if we assume that the characters are the same age as the actors who played them, then Oscar Ekdahl would have been born during the reign of Oscar I (reigned 1844- 1859), and Carl during the reign of Karl XV (reigned 1859 - 1872). Gustav Adolf would also have been born three years after Oscar, and thus during the reign of Oscar I as well, so he was presumably named after Gustav II Adolph (reigned 1611 - 1632), who made Sweden an international power during the Thirty Years' War, and who is possibly more famous to movie fans as the father of Queen Christina. See more »
When Gustav Adolph and the maid are in bed together and the bed breaks, a string used to pull down the headboard onto them is visible. See more »
Most of the ideas revealed through mystery by Bergman in Fanny och Alexander have already been addressed by others. The first time I saw this film was in 1984, on tv and with a much shorter version than the one released in England in 2002, which is the full 300-plus minute original.
That day I was scared -really scared- watching the scene where Alexander is been helped to let out his most evil thoughts by Ishmael, a completely mysterious character with supernatural insight. And then, a blackout. You can imagine: if I was truly scared this left me breathless.
Then, almost twenty years passed until I found this remarkable jewel, in its full version, perfectly digitised and audio-enhanced in dvd. I bought a dlp projector and used a previewing room to show it to my students. I didn't know what was going to happen. But that doubt was worth the waiting.
I think it's very difficult to say any other thing than breathtaking to underline what this film accomplishes. It's the reflected work of years of understanding and hard work between Bergman and Nyvqvist. One of the most powerful, beautiful, fearful and perfect films of all times. An exaggeration, like. Yes, but I think that there are no words to explain how plainly perfect this work is. The way it was written. The way it was directed. The way it was lighted. The way it was designed. The way each and every character plays his or her role. The details -not a Bergman's new- to which they paid the most dedicated attention to. The luxurious use of available light. The setting of the story. The amazing locations. Everything in this film was perfectly studied, down to the colour shifts that would take place in every shot!, forget about whole scenes!
The troubling minds of all those characters whose lives are at crossroads. The powerful and eventful lives of just one familiy. The small and big affairs that affect them. Gratitude and hate. Honour and shame. Guilt and love. Fear and joy. Selfishness and generosity. Every long scene exudes with tension, pure fun or pleasure; with increasing uneasiness and abrupt changes of demeanor. With a richness that could only be found where a very skillful eye -trained to see what most disregard as common- finds beauty and harmony. And a sound that is as exhilarating as the narrative depiction.
When the maxim of making "every frame a Rembrandt" comes to my mind, this film makes me think Bergman pushed the envelope a little further: he gives (or I'd rather say, Nyvqyst) the tratment of Van Der Meer or Bosch or Cezanne or Michelangelo to some scenes. (Think the kids playing at the nursery, the housemaidens sewing socks, the meadow and the boat, the transfixing scene of Alexander in the attic with his mother).
And a story told from the eyes of two kids worth a ton of gold. Alexander's (Bertil Guve, when he was twelve-thirteen) enormously powerful and convincing role can certainly be compared to any big-theatre-role actor.
Superb. Don't think you've seen the whole thing until you get the 5 hour full-story.
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