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aka - Fanny Och Alexander
Sweden 1982
Directed by
Ingmar Bergman
188 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Fanny And Alexander

Winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film Fanny And Alexander is a lavish costume drama that takes place over the course of a year in the life of a well-to-do upper middle class Swedish family in 1908 and is partly based on Bergman's own childhood. Photographed by the director's long-time collaborator, Sven Nykvist, and starring many Bergman regulars (as well as members of his own family) but on a scale that is very atypical of the director's characteristic low-fi repertory style (it has 60 speaking parts and 1,200 extras) it depicts the lives of the titular characters as they are thrown from the security of their extended family after the untimely death of their father and their mother's remarriage to a self-satisfied and ultimately callous man of the cloth..

Not that the film for all its lushly glowing nostalgia for a bygone era is free of typically Bergmanesque qualities of disappointment, infidelity, egotism, guilt, illness, corruption and, of course, death. It's just that they are set within in a gorgeously appointed tapestry of the past rather than the director's usual stripped-back essentialization. Of additional interest is the insight into Bergman's early introduction to the world of story-telling through puppet theatre and magic lantern shows and the roots of his spiritual unease in Calvinist religiosity.

FYI: Bergman announced his retirement from feature film-making with this film and subsequently concentrated his activities on theatre and television.




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