Sunday 24 April 2011

Fanny & Alexander [1982]

Fanny and Alexander was the majestic penultimate film of Swedish maestro Ingmar Bergman. This semi-autobiographical film by Bergman, about the joys and pains of growing up, is filled with deeply-felt melancholia and heart-warming nostalgia. The film’s protagonist is a young boy called Alexander Ekdahl growing up, with his younger sister Fanny, in a large, aristocratic family mansion in turn-of-the-century Sweden. However, upon the death of his theatre-loving father, the lives of the two young souls take a drastic turn for the worse when their mother decides to marry a harsh and cold Bishop, and decides to move in to his austere home. The lack of material comforts, however, turns out to be the least of their problems, as they are thrown into a life that is unloving and unforgiving. The most memorable portion of the film undoubtedly remains the extended opening sequence where the distinguished Ekdahl family is shown having a grand and boisterous Christmas celebration. Filled with a host of neurotic and wonderfully etched characters, the party is a scene of joy and mirth. Gorgeous photography and interior set-pieces play important parts in showing the arc, from resplendence to bleakness to back to one of contentment, that the film traverses. This episodic film boasts of extraordinary performances, not just by the kids, but by its entire ensemble cast, especially their affectionate grandmother (Gunn Wallgren), beautiful mother (Ewa Froling) and brutal step-father (Jan Malmsjoe), among many others.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Genre: Drama/Family Drama/Psychological Drama/Ensemble Film/Period Film
Language: Swedish
Country: Sweden


Sam Juliano said...

Here we have one of the greatest of all films. As you note in your superlative capsule review it's a sumptuous tapestry on display with the Ekdahl family's underpinnings are probe in a psychologically fascinating if painful examination. It's a film of melencholy, of spirits and human frailty. Extraordinary opening with that sublime use of one of music's greatest compositions, Schumann's Piano Quintet.

Stupendous review here!!!

This is my personal #1 film of the 1980's.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a lot Sam for the appreciation. Given the magnificence of this Bergman film, it is easy to understand that it made your No. 1 among films of the 80's. As you too mentioned, the film's extended opening sequence was truly unforgettable.

By the way, I'd be interested to know your (ranked) list of favourite Ingmar Bergman films. :)

Alex DeLarge said...

I hate to admitt this...but I've never seen this particular Bergman! I've been waiting for a high-definition release of the full 8 hour version but you have inspired me to finally buy the Criterion DVD. Great review:)

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Alex. This sure is a great movie, and I'd be really interested to read your review once you've watched it.