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Fanny & Alexander Reviews

Page 1 of 51
Bob S

Super Reviewer

March 27, 2007
Finally got to see the full length five hour television version.

My hands are tied. Until the judging committee agrees on a new scoring system, I am compelled to give this a perfect score - five stars.

Super Reviewer

July 12, 2014
Ingmar Bergman crafts a stunning piece of cinema that is bold, ambitious and superbly acted and is a film that ranks among the finest of foreign cinema. The story is simple, yet the way Bergman tackles his subject is truly exquisite and adds so much to the overall enjoyment of the film. I have heard many great things about Bergman, and I can see why. He's a filmmaker who crafts picture that not only tell a great story, but they rely on a powerful, evocative visual style to really grab your attention. With Fanny and Alexander, he uses a simple idea, yet he brings it to fruition with a superb cast of talented individuals, and it's a beautiful picture that easily ranks among the finest ever made. The story follows two children and its adventures they experience with their family. What follows is a striking story that you cannot forget, and is hard to tear yourself away from because Bergman's picture is more a work of art than actual film. This is a must watch if you enjoy a finely crafted genre picture, a film that resonates with the viewer and uses a simple plot to its advantage. Of course what I appreciated the most about the film is the fact that Ingmar Bergman doesn't overdo anything with the film, and like many of cinema's finest artists, he does phenomenal work with using so little, and it works very well. Fanny and Alexander is a picture is engaging from start to finish, a film that has power in its visuals, acting and direction. If you're a cinephile you owe it to yourself to watch the film. To me, Fanny and Alexander was superb, immaculate filmmaking at its very best, and it is a film that resonates due to the fine craftsmanship that Bergman has displayed in front of the camera.
Lucas M

Super Reviewer

August 2, 2012
Criative and inspiring masterpiece tale by Bergman.

Super Reviewer

July 1, 2007
Without doubt the best movie I've seen by Ingmar Bergman so far! This amazing classic has some of the most beautiful scenery and art-directing ever conceived in the history of cinema. Superb acting all-around and an intriguing story that is incredibly moving. All in all, Swedish film-making at its best, and something you can appreciate whichever country you're from.
Matheus C

Super Reviewer

August 13, 2011
A primeira cena de Fanny e Alexander introduz o menino do título (Bertil Guve) a contemplar um palco em miniatura vazio. Nós, no papel de espectadores, nos encontramos em uma espécie de ponto subjetivo, observando o personagem atrás das cortinas. Com este plano, Bergman estabelece um paradoxo que percorre ao longo do filme: seria o que se desenrola na tela fruto da imaginação supressa do protagonista ou realmente parte do universo real da narrativa?

Ao início do filme, contemplamos a vida feliz levada por Alexander e sua irmã mais nova Fanny (Pernilla Allwin) em meio a sua excêntrica família burguesa. Quando o pai das crianças morre inesperadamente, sua mãe se casa com o bispo de bom nome Edvard Vergerus (Jan Malmsjö), que leva a viúva e filhos para viverem em sua isolada residência. É amplamente conhecido o fato de Fanny e Alexander ser um reflexo da própria vida do diretor sueco, e estes elementos autobiográficos se fazem acentuados a partir do momento em que o padrasto começa a mostrar suas verdadeiras cores (o pai de Bergman era um clérigo estrito). No entanto, o filme também é uma fábula a certo ponto, com Bergman trazendo a tona os aspectos mais sombrios dos contos de fadas - e, de certa forma, a sua verdadeira cerne. A trajetória de Fanny e Alexander traz reflexos de João e Maria, desde sua sedução pela bruxa malvada em pele de cordeiro até sua épica fuga e libertação (neste caso, tanto de corpo quanto mente). Enquanto Alexander atravessa o processo catártico da narrativa, Fanny atua como observadora dos atos de selvageria sofridos pelo irmão - de fato, uma continuação poderia ser produzida apenas explorando os efeitos psicológicos sofridos pela menina.

Não apenas um pastiche de estilos, Fanny e Alexander também é uma alegoria de amadurecimento através do sofrimento, da libertação dos desejos mais profundos (não importando o quão impuro eles sejam) e também uma fábula de moral. Tudo isso suportado pelo costumeiro panache visual de seu diretor.
Dan S

Super Reviewer

July 22, 2011
A scrumptious, intricately plotted drama concerning a family in early 1900's Sweden, and how the mother struggles to find a male figure after her husband dies suddenly of a stroke. While the film definitely takes its time and Bergman could definitely be accused of self-indulgence, the movie is always outstandingly constructed and unmistakably haunting given Bergman's obligatory use of religion and question of God's existence. The movie is not perfect like many critics claim, as it fails to get inside the head of the Fanny character as much as it does the Alexander one, and as a result it feels sort off off-kilter from time-to-time, but that doesn't keep it from being a very good film, and one that forcefully demonstrates Bergman's control off his lens and story-telling ability.

Super Reviewer

January 6, 2011
At the end of Bergman's Fanny and Alexander, I wondered if I was missing something. A director of Bergman's caliber doesn't include superfluous characters and events without a reason, yet I can't discern how the film's early scenes and many of the uncles and aunts are connected to the central conflict, which doesn't really begin until an hour and half into the film. It is then that Alexander and the Bishop begin their feud, which provides the most compelling moments of the film, and Bergman elevates this conflict to reflections about God, faith, death, and justice. When he's this specific, this focused, and this ambitious, Bergman's work is astounding, intelligent entertainment.
Also, while some have argued that the film is anti-semetic, I wouldn't go that far. Though it is certainly true that Bergman does nothing to disspell stereotypes about Jews, the character in question does end up assisting our heroes and looking benevolent in the process. Rather than condemning the film outright, I would temper that statement by saying that the film is certainly problematic in its portrayal.
Overall, this probably isn't the best introduction to Bergman, but critics claim that it is essential to understanding his oeuvre. I'm glad I saw it for that reason, but I don't think I'd watch it again.
Leigh R

Super Reviewer

May 5, 2010
I liked it though it seemed to have a slow pace to me.
Cassandra M

Super Reviewer

December 13, 2009
Perhaps the most impressive feature of this wonderful film is the humility with which its creator presents it to the world, as if it were no grander than the old-fashioned Nativity-play shown in the early scenes at the Theatre.

At the end of this experience - to term it with any mere technical tag, like 'movie', would be inadequate - Bergman's profoundly grown-up disillusionment has transformed into the pure spirituality of abnegation and acceptance. His intellectual pilgrimage, through possibly the greatest career in films, finds the director arriving back where he began, with the great simplicities of life. But there is a difference with his return, which is that his prodigality over the years has burnt the rage out of him, and finally allowed him to 'enjoy what may be enjoyed' (as one of the Ekdahls says), without further fretting over the puzzle of human existence. From all this human folly (he clearly feels) comes the only wisdom, which is - simply - to be human.

It is, indeed, a film like no other for allowing the pieces of experience to settle into their appointed places. There is a beautiful quality of selfless resignation, in this last of his works for cinema, which finally and forever excels the sadistic disciplines of The Bishop.

This perverted creature confesses, to the new wife whom he has lost, how it is impossible to 'tear off the mask' as it is 'burned into my face': He is become an authoritarian '... a rite, a law, a custom - not a man'. [Shelley] Having put the notional love of God before that of humankind, there is nowhere for his personality to be re-enacted in the bosom of any kindly recollections that will survive him. Except in that of Alexander/Bergman, where his two, each-in-their-own-way terrifying, fathers, both the White and the Black opposites of an imagination flickering with the director's haunted vision, will project forever onto his Cinematic arena of stark absolutes the inner strife where each of us is locked away, struggling to endure the turmoil of these eternally irreconcilable truths.

The White Knight and The Black Bishop: These are phantom moves in our great game with Death, and pieces that will be returned into play for as long as humanity continues. How like Chess Life is: Just a game we play, with arbitrary rules, and yet whose progress is of supreme and abiding concern to each and every one of us.

This great work is a monument to play, in all its senses, not least the play of light and the play of ideas, both equally insubstantial and yet the essence of reality, eloquent as the silence of a great, roofless Cathedral. Out of the Ruin of Faith, Bergman has wrought a Peace that passeth understanding. And it is in this ultimate by-passing of the relentless structures of intellect that Bergman finally achieves the resolution of his productive neuroses, in a truly magical film whose every phase is as inevitable as breathing, or the changeable and unimpeded weather.

As the grandmother reflects. at last, 'I don't want to put Life together anymore. I just leave it broken. Strangely, it seems better that way.'

Death, in the end, is not a calamity, but the choice of all who have truly known Life. In other words, to choose Life is to accept its Dark partner, Death. And to accept each as part of the family group, even though they seem complete misfits there.

The old lady, with Strindberg's Dream-play in her lap, knows at last that the whole history of her family is only a personal reverie. And yet how much more real it seems than her son Carl's immature and somewhat absurd, angst-ridden railings against 'cruel Fate'!

Had he only accepted his patient wife's gently sympathetic injunction to 'Never mind' the Professor would have been both wiser and happier, enduring with patient fortitude the oceanic inconsequentialities of life's real Mystery, and attending far less to the trivial pseudo-mysteries of his solipsistic men's club. All his morbid rationalising is precisely as much use in real life as the usual state of alcoholic befuddlement which is the only serious pursuit of this club.

Reason as befuddlement; The sleep of reason as deliverance. With saint-like humility, Bergman gives us back our ordinary human life, as he surrenders his exceptional life in films. But he knows that the ghost of this life will always be with us. His anguished worldliness will haunt us - as the Ghost of Hamlet's father must haunt Alexander - forever.

Super Reviewer

January 7, 2009
Fanny and Aleander has:

A nursemaid with cleavage
A pillow fight
An uncle who farts out candles
Randy old men
Promiscuous young ladies
A Christmas party
A death
A ghost
A wicked stepfather
An enormous aunt
Bars on the windows
A clever escape
Another death
Another ghost
An androgynous, psychic brother
And an intermission

Five stars for content, minus one half star for its THREE HOUR running time (watch from a VERY comfortable chair!)
Jennifer X

Super Reviewer

December 3, 2008
I feel terrible for saying this, but I literally wanted to kill myself from the boredom. Bergman has never impressed me and this just seals the deal. I wish I could detect the intellectual fulfillment so many seem to derive from his works, but I can't get past the boredom. Alexander is a boring kid who never seems to do anything but experience things and look depressed, and Fanny barely even appears in the movie. Maybe these things are culturally significant to the movie, but honestly, it's so boring I don't even care.

Super Reviewer

November 27, 2007
although considered by many to be a masterpiece, this is my least favorite of bergmans films. it is well directed and well crafted for sure, but the goodness ends there. at three hours it is overlong, needing as much as an hour of this slow paced film to be left on the cutting room floor. the characters are dry, although bergman did a decent job about making me feel slightly emotionally attached to a few of them. fanny doesnt say more than 10 words the entire film and alexander has no real charisma. the bishop does a good job of making the audience hate him, but there were endless amounts of storyline outside of his that were pointless. the film also introduces a character in carl who seems important and he dissapears an hour into the film, which is poor story telling. overall, the story just didnt matter much. it also felt normal through most of the film, but delved into the supernatural at inopportune and confusing times. overall, not worth much.

Super Reviewer

December 6, 2008
One of the BEST Ingmar movies
Christopher M

Super Reviewer

March 4, 2007
This mature fairy tale is based around one particularly strong willed boy (Alexander) and his sister (Fanny), their upper class Swedish family, and the time they spend living under a tyrant when their well meaning mother carries them along into a new marriage like baggage, not knowing what awaits them. This is the third film I've seen by Ingmar Bergman (first in colour) - and it is filled with vibrant characters, images, spirits, and a riveting plot. Bergman expertly intertwines the metaphysical, fantastic aspects of the story along with his shrewd take on the trivialities of daily life, all backed by a study of the relationship of a very close knit family. I think what I really appreciated most about this movie was how alive the characters were. Bergman has an amazing ability, as is evident in the other films of his I've seen, to bring alive all of the characters in his films so that we almost instantly understand who they are. and what place they have in the film. Fanny & Alexander is a wonderful, rapturous film by a true master filmmaker.
John B

Super Reviewer

August 16, 2013
Lovely and quite different from the rest of the Bergman canon. Not that there was anything wrong with his previous work but this is as close to mass entertainment as we get. Incredibly long and epic, it never feels indulgent.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

August 9, 2013
Well, I reckon Ingrid Bergman doesn't have to be in America and potentially harassed by Alfred Hitchcock to make successful films, but I reckon she finally died in 1982 because she couldn't handle juggling both "A Woman Called Golda" and her directorial debut, unless, of course, she's been in a theater somewhere out there watching this film and "A Woman Called Golda" back-to-back for the past thirty-one years. Oh no, wait, this film is directed by Ing[u]mar[/u] Bergman, which should tell you that the Swedes aren't exactly as creative with their bebis names as they are with their films' runtime. Man, I'd like to say that this film's title always makes me think of "Nicholas and Alexandra", but if you thought that "Nicholas and Alexandra" was long then, well, this film is probably not going to be any longer than you, because the 189-minute-long version would probably be more than enough for you. Well, while you superficial moviegoers who think that "The Return of the King" is as long as a film can possibly get are off watching about a whole two hours get mercilessly hacked away from this inspired achievement in European cinema, we film critics shall watch this film like it was meant to be seen, whether it be because we are more appreciative of the artistic vision or because, well, we don't really have anything else to do for five hours and a quarter. Shoot, the film took home Best Foreign Language Film when it wasn't but three hours, so that version couldn't have been too messed up, but then again, Ingmar Bergman already had two of those awards under his belt by 1982, so the Oscars were pretty much obligated to at least give him something for his big passion project. Either way, the point is that this film's original five-hour+ version isn't the most necessary extended version out there, and sometimes I just have to glance at this runtime while I'm trying to keep up with subtitles and wonder just what in the world I'm doing with my life. Oh well, enough about "La Commune (Paris, 1871)", let's move on to this long European film which is actually quite good, though unfortunately with plenty of time to pick up some shortcomings throughout whichever hefty length it runs.

I've only seen this film's director's cut, but I've skimmed through some of the earlier bits of the theatrical cut and can tell you that, whichever version of this film you see, the first segment - which runs about an hour in the theatrical cut and just over a whopping hour-and-a-half - focuses on a subplot involving the titular leads' adult relatives that may have some kind of thematic significance in the long run when it comes to this coming-of-age epic, but does not connect with the central plot as organically as it should and inspires focal unevenness, something that does not disappear as the film progresses, because even though this character study doesn't cover its leads' evolution from childhood to, say, old age, not all of this layered story's dynamic chapters flow into each other as comfortably as they probably should. The level of incoherency in this film certainly peaks with the borderline superfluous first segment, so the chapter changes after that are hardly all that jarring, but there is a bit of inconsistency here, settled down a bit by the film's at least keeping consistent with one aspect through the segments. Considering its hefty lengthy, it would only be matter of time before the film hit a slow spell, but there's not excusing the film's being all but consistently slow, rarely to a dull extent, but decidedly to an extent where things go blanded... or whatever up by anything from a bit too much quietness to a somewhat cold atmosphere that limps pacing down, something that this film cannot afford to lose a grip on, considering the final product's length, or rather, lengths. Whether we're looking at the theatrical cut that stops just shy of 190 minutes, or the definitive director's cut that stops just shy of five hours and a quarter, this film asks for quiet the investment of your time, and really, it doesn't always pay off, bloating itself with excess material, maybe even filler (Seriously, what was up with the relatives' being the primary focus of the first segment?), until repetition sets in, occasionally to devolve into aimlessness, at least within the director's cut which is so long that narrative rises and falls become relatively sparse, bridged by overlong coasting spells. The theatrical cut of the film had to have lost much substance, because no matter how long this film's definitive version may be, two hours is a whole lot of time to excise, though I'm sure more than a few pieces of excess fat got trimmed around the edges, and yet, I doubt that this film's shorter, less realized version is that much tighter, because, well, I skimmed through the theatrical cut enough to tell you that it still has that blasted unfitting first segment, but also because you can feel in the atmosphere of the film itself that Ingmar Bergman would stop at nothing to get this film as packed as he could with material. Bergman is just so ambitious with this project, and I understand and respect that, because this is such a personal project, and one that he does a lot of justice to more often than not, but at the same time, when Bergman makes a mistake, his palpable passion only makes you more aware of his vision's shortcomings, of which there quite a few, - from focal unevenness to pacing unevenness - and enough for the final product to fall short of its potential. That being said, the film is likely to reward the patient, arguably not as much as Bergman had hopes, but certainly enough for you to be compelled, at least by the final product's artistic value.

When I said that this film gets to be a bit too quiet for its own good, I sure didn't mean that you have to put up with whispers, if any kind of dialogue at all, but I did mean that musical compliments to atmospheric kick are considerably unevenly used, so you shouldn't expect to hear much from Daniel Bell's score, which is a shame, because when Bell's very classically tasteful compositions come into play, while they don't have too much in the way of uniqueness or kick, they are lovely, and help in driving the selling of this film, much like Anna Asp's art direction, which isn't too outstanding, but joins lovely production and costume designs in designing a subtly distinct look for this film's environment that draw you into early 20th century Sweden pretty comfortably. The visual artistry of the film isn't all that celebrated, but it is more played up than the musical artistry, and does quite a bit to breathe some life into this film, and cinematographer Sven Nykvist, realizing this, does, well, only so much to compliment the film's visual style, doing only so much that's all that impressive with color and lighting, but still delivering enough to soak up a fair degree of rich definition, sometimes near-gorgeously. Okay, earlier, when I stated that this film at least compel on an artistic level, maybe I was going a touch too far, because this film isn't as celebratory of its artistic value as I was expecting, but when artistry is played up, whether it be of a musical nature or of a visual nature, it does keep you going, just not as much as the heart of this project: the substance. There's a certain minimalism to this overlong epic, but no matter how much this film gets a bit too tightened up for its own good in its abridged cut, or gets a bit carried away when it comes to finding stuff to run out the clock with in the definitive director's cut, the value of this compelling family and coming-of-age drama cannot be ignored, and it's not like Ingmar Bergman will let you ignore the value of this story, even as screenwriter, turning in a clever script that boasts realist and, of course, extensive characterization, which steadily fleshes out considerable dramatic and thematic weight, really brought to life when Bergman, as director, becomes inspired enough in his thoughtful storytelling to draw the depths of this drama out, sometimes as mighty moving. From the powerful sequence in which our leads face their first tragedy: the death of their father, to other heavy events which will shape the children, and even their relatives, there are some pretty effective dramatic highlights here and there throughout this film, which is pretty rarely less than compelling, and for that, much, maybe even most of the credit is due to Bergman's obviously inspired storytelling, but you must not disregard the anchors of this character drama's weight: the performers. I wasn't exactly going in fearing more than a few acting hiccups, but I was not expecting the performers to be as inspired as they are, because even though sparse heights in dramatic material hold the acting back, most everyone delivers, whether it be Bertil Guve and Pernilla Allwin as the titular leads whose layers as budding youths coming of age go sold by their young portrayers, or the older performers - particularly Ewa Fröling - who hit on plenty of striking emotional beats which sell you on the struggles of the adult characters. Most everyone delivers, to one degree or another, whether they be on the screen or off of it, and while the film isn't carried so far that it's three hours tremendously well-spent, let alone five-and-a-quarter, it's rewarding, overcoming focal and pacing problems enough to compel through most every one of its 189 or 311 minutes.

In conclusion, there is a touch of focal unevenness at times, as well as pacing unevenness which blands things up, and often leaves you to meditate upon how the film, no matter which version you're watching, is a bit too long, to where lengthiness joins an overwhelming sense of ambition in giving shortcomings time to into perspective as enough for the final product to fall short of its potential, but not so short that the lovely, if seriously underused score, immersive, if a bit underproduced art direction, attractive, if somewhat improvable cinematography, and thoroughly engaging story concept - done justice by well-rounded writing, effective highlights in direction and inspired performances - aren't enough to carry Ingmar Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander" as a flawed, but ultimately consistently compelling coming-of-age epic.

3/5 - Good
Chris B

Super Reviewer

June 4, 2011
Criterion have put out a fantastic 3-disk set on blu-ray that includes both the 188 minutes theatrical version and 5 hour and 20 minute television version, and in addition to many other supplements including a thick booklet we are also treated to Bergman's self directed documentary The Making of Fanny and Alexander! For the most complete version of Bergman's vision, you must watch the television version as the theatrical has been trimmed almost in half. While the film is extremely long, it is never boring or wasting time with unneeded elements. Fanny and Alexander may start off a little slow as it introduces characters and stories, it is so wonderful to watch the stunning cinematography and poetic dialogue that runs throughout Bergman's whole film and for that matter filmography! With both likable and villainous characters and a phenomenal script you can't take your eyes away even for a second. Hearing the dialogue and watching the beautifully filmed settings, you know this is something special. This isn't just a masterpiece but a visual representation that captures Bergman, the believes and ideals and is such, a piece of him preserved in film history forever! While it is indeed long, its a film that needs the time and attention of the viewer and justly rewards those that are willing to do this!
Alec B

Super Reviewer

June 29, 2010
I can't put into words how I felt about this movie other than to say that I loved it. So many films about families become so sentimental and fake. "Fanny & Alexander" never hits a false not. Even the supernatural moments work beautifully. A masterpiece from Bergman

Super Reviewer

August 2, 2009
This is the choice; the three hour epic or the five hour even more epic. And lucky me, my DVD rental company sent me the five hour version so feet up relax, buy snacks first. Actually I ended up watching it in two sessions, which was easy as it divides into five "acts", so you can choose a nice place to stop.
This is not a film for everyone. It's a slow long drama about a Swedish extended family at the turn of the previous century. Despite its title, you find out little about Alexander and even less about his sister, and most about the variety of colourful characters that make up their family - the theatrical parents, the manic depressive uncle, the philandering other uncle. It starts with a large Christmas celebration and there's plenty of snow and general Bergmanly swedishness, before the story turns darker as all good epics should and Fanny and Alexander and their mother ... well, I don't want to spoil it. If you're not hooked by the end of act two, then I think you should turn off and go do something else instead. Otherwise open another bag of peanuts, and get comfy. Lucky you, there's a long way to go yet....
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