Fanny & Alexander Reviews
Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, the story of two children,
Fanny and Alexander (strangely enough), and what happens after their
Underwhelming, a bit of an ordeal and vastly overrated. It's over three hours long, yet the story only really develops and has
some degree of intrigue from about the two-hour mark. Until then, it
just drifts and all feels like background, rather than plot
Even once it does pick up the drama, this gets resolved in a rather
random fashion and then goes somewhere weird and pretentious.
Overall, pointless and mostly boring. Thank goodness for the fast
forward button and sub-titles (or "how to watch a 3-hour movie in 1 1/2 hours"...).
After a slow, gentle start, Bergman lets the story take over and this little boy's fantasy begins to weave it's way into the proceedings.
The ending is well worth the wait with it's developing intensity and eventual satisfaction.
I saw the 3 hr theatrical edition, and now I'd like to see the 5 hr version bc the characters and story are given more enrichment.
Still a bit long overall, but If you are willing to invest the time, this will bring you memorable images with keeping.
4 out of 5 flowery table decorations
In the first part, at the "Ekdahlska huset", I get served flawless acting by many actors. Real, tragic crazyness from back in the days. I enjoy being a spectator and the cinematography is to blame together with mentioned acting, script and surprizingly edgy stuff - remember, the setting is put 100 years back. A great atmosphere, I get in the mood for christmas - in a weird way. I'm fearing/hoping it's a mild build-up for bigger happenings.
The second part is picking up a year later or so and is in the same style. Still a subtle bore-vibe over it, but the acting stays ace. Some bigger moments here as well, but I feel that the film hasen't bloomed just yet.
In the third part (or fourth act) things bloom. It's more psychological, darker - almost horrifying. It makes me really look forward to the last part of the film.
The last part and act five is truly a great finisher. It's more exciting, still dark. The great performances continue and we are up for several surprizes.
In total this is a great play told from kids eyes, but that's easy to forget.
It's epical, huge, long and filled with great characters. The manners of spoken words are fascinating and they are delt with so well. It's unexplainable at times, but also very real and probably a personal and nearly autobiographical film from Bergman. A late masterpice from one of few Scandinavian masters.
8.5 out of 10 cognacs.
Directors like Stanley Kubrick, Federico Fellini, and Ingmar Bergman are fascinating individuals, adding pieces of themselves into their films; ensuring they are creating a product that is personal and unique. There can only be one of them, and many could try to mimic their style but it would not create the same impact as a piece of them in not found in it.
It was only recently that I was won over by Persona, finding it much easier to find the appeal of Bergman's distinctive style and the deeper and intelligent themes that lurked behind its story. Fanny and Alexander was not a difficult film to experience, due to its characters being easily identifiable and the journey they go through feels more grounded than what I have seen in Persona. One does not need to give deep thought to its meaning and ideas in order to enjoy what is being shown, simply sitting there and taking in the film's visuals and atmosphere is enough to leave one satisfied.
Fanny and Alexander is a beautiful painting of joys and tragedy, and the unpredictability of life itself. It shows that major tragedies could come at the most unexpected of times, and seeing it through Alexander's eyes gives it a larger emotional impact. It is through the aftermath of these strategies, we see how it affects a person, and Bergman executes this in a way that is much different to other filmmakers who try to capture the honesty of death and grief. In this film, Bergman lets these tragedies feel more theatrical, to connect in some way to the inherent connection of the family's performing arts; something that was also present in Persona. The recent passing of Alexander's father has changed him and his sister, but Bergman keeps the film's perspective through Alexander's eyes. It is from there we see his deeper connection of the "supernatural" grow, becoming more and more intrusive of his life; but the film doesn't treat these supernatural elements as fantastical or mystical, instead it feels more psychological and human. Alexander sees the ghost of his father walking around him, acting in a particular way because he saw his father struck by death whilst in the role of the ghost of Hamlet's father.
It was also after the sight of his father's death that his sense of innocence has started to fade away; beginning to conjure up dark and hurtful lies, speaking out cuss words as a way of rebellion against the world and his god. Alexander's lies is also a reflection of his innate connection and abilities to the theatre, to be a storyteller that would draw others in and be convinced, possibly converted in the process. It is sad to see Alexander constantly lie, as it is clear that he has a gift; a gift that could be shared and positively impact the lives of others, and he probably would have walked down a path that allows this, if sudden tragic events did not unfold so bluntly.
Bergman contrasts the film's sense of tragedy with joy and happiness during the opening and closing scenes of the film. It is during these times where we see the characters in a much different light, a reflection of what many want for their lives. It is during these scenes that Bergman emphasises the importance of finding joy in life as it is short, not feeling guilty for a bit of luxury as long as it evokes a feeling of happiness. The difference between the two, however, is the ending being darker, showing that Alexander's previous experience has completely changed him, not having that sense of curiosity, wonder, and blind joy that defined him then.
My core issue with the film resides in its final hour, with Alexander exploring his uncle's store; becoming more in touch with his supernatural elements. It is here where Bergman becomes much more ambiguous, requiring intense attention in order to understand the ideas behind it. I was thankfully able to follow the story, but with a film like this, knowing the story isn't enough; it is the richer and thoughtful elements behind it that make the film enjoyable. It also helped that the magical quality that Bergman carrier during it were executed strongly.
Fanny and Alexander features cinematography that is both delicious and atmospheric. The film's opening and closing sequence emphasise the sense of lushness and luxury that fills the Ekdahl home. Sven Nykvist, the film's director of photography, contrasts this during the scenes in the middle where Fanny and Alexander is living with the bishop, where the surroundings are stripped down to their fundamentals, lacking in vibrant colours and artefacts that would create a welcoming atmosphere. It is a place seemingly devoid of memory and warmth, emphasising the internal suffering and sacrifice that the children has made.
Fanny and Alexander is great film by Bergman, ending his filmography on a high note, with a story that manages to be personal and spiritual. Though it becomes a bit difficult during its third act, it still managed to keep my attention and curiosity engaged until the very end.