Never before have I felt such amazing hope and complete and utter despair for the human race as when I finished the final episode of Fanny & Alexander (the Television version as it was intended to be seen). This filmic vision touched me in so many ways, a true Bergman masterpiece. Through this film Bergman focused not merely on the faults or the heights of the human psyche or the human emotion, he touched upon them all and not just at surface value either, he really dug into himself and produced a work which pluck every string of my emotional and psychological being.
I just wanted to say that as it is three fifteen and I have finally finished this amazing “film,” I also wanted to spark discussion I have seen mention of this film before in different releated threads but I though that it needed it’s own thread (which wasn’t under the Bergman heading if there is one so forgive me if someone already did this). So, thoughts about the film(and or series)? How did it affect you? What did you think? What were your favorite scenes/characters/themes?
I saw the theatrical film. I didn’t like it.
I’m going to check out the mini-series. I’m sure it’s fucking incredible in that way.
I saw the mini series form of SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE and it’s one of my favourite films. Then I saw the theatrical cut and it’s a goddam abomination. These films should be seen the way that they should be seen. Like how CHE should be seen in its entirety.
Stay awake till the end and I’ll give you a second bag of popcorn.
I also only saw the theatrical cut and didn’t care for it too much.
I want to see the television version.
No wonder it is priced $29.99, al lot of folks prefer the mini-series, on the contrary, I loved the theatrical cut which was still a little over 3 hours
I’ve seen both the theatrical cut (never again, god willing) and the television cut (a few times, now), with the television cut being vastly superior in every way imaginable.
I familiarized myself with the television cut as it (obviously) is Bergman’s preferred cut before watching the theatrical cut; when I watched the theatrical cut I was shocked to find that nearly all of my favorite scenes had been stripped away. The skeleton of the film is still apparent, but the heart and soul are missing. While the television cut is much more of a commitment, the reward is much greater.
oops! my internet slipped and posted this twice, sorry!
The theatrical cut is missing a lot. All the magic and mystic feelings are lost.
Which cut is the Criterion release? I saw the theatrical version years ago and it definitely is a very sad film in terms of how the children are treated by the stepfather.
They’re both Criterion, I have the set with both, and I still haven’t seen the theatrical but the TV one is one of his BEST!
I think this is my first double post!… umm damn
Oh ok, thanks. I’d like to see it sometime.
To this date, this is the best Criterion release in my opinion (and I’m talking about the TV, Theater, and Making of Box set). I’ve never saw the full version prior to this, just the 3+ hour theatrical version and I always thought it was a great movie but the TV version is a complete and utter masterpiece and his greatest work. You must see the full version.. the theatrial edit misses alot of the mythical overtones of the full as well as many other things.
This is pure Bergman with his mix of the Bergman nihilism, religious angst, his morbid sense of humor, our constant struggle with god. Brilliant writing. .. only Bergman can get away with a 10 minute on screen monologues.. or the only person that had the balls to do it.
The cinematography is absolutely amazing.. note the scene where Emilie visits her mother-in-law in secret… you can almost feel the Swedish summer
The making of is a masterpiece in itself.
I saw the theatrical cut awhile ago and it has since fought with Persona for the Bergman spot in my top 5 films of all time. It is truly an incredible film. I recently bought the Criterion box set but I have been waiting to watch it with a few people. Well this Sunday…Fanny and Alexander party! It’s going to rock!
I went back to the record store where I had seen a copy of this but it was gone, someone else had gotten it. :(
I just finished the 5 hour version, and to those who are intimidated by its length….don’t be. It was a spellbinding experience and the episodes just flew by. I have never seen such a portrayal of a family on film before….the only thing close would be The Godfather, except with the richness of a classic novel. For instance, I felt several references to Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov while watching this, intended or not. Some of the characters even looked like I had imagined them in TBK…..I recommend you read it if you enjoyed this film.
The part that freaked me out the most that I still cannot figure out was the Ismael part. I guess he (she?) was supposed to be a sort of sick, puppet-master type God, who did nothing while the family was suffering. ‘God hears the truth but waits’ is something I thought of during the fire/bishop’s killing sequence. Too late? I was left with a very uneasy feeling about Ismael and the theme of power and influence over others. Did Ismael use the whole ‘we are one’ schtick as a means to sexually abuse Alexander? What was the significance of taking off his clothes? That REALLY bothered me.
The short version is one of my favorite films of all time. It’s perfect in every way. I hear the longer version is even better, and I can’t wait to see it. I’m surprised so many people didn’t care for the theatrical version—it’s really powerful and simply beautiful to watch.
Just finished the Television version tonight, incredible, definitely the best of the 10 Bergman films i’ve seen so far. No contest. Which I didn’t expect going in because I love all of the other ones so much.
The thing I’m most curious about after having finished is what exactly happened, or at least some ideas of what happened when Isak Jacobi helped Fanny and Alexander escape. It seemed pretty abrupt when Bishop Edvard Vergerus struck Isak and accused him of trying to steal the children, I didn’t see any sign of him catching Isak. Even then, he obviously didn’t think Isak was using the chest to hide them or he wouldn’t have ran upstairs. Then Isak screams and a light shines and he faints. Edvard goes to the children’s room and they’re laying on the floor, and the mother somehow winds up in the room with them and startles Edvard. Then Isak comes too, calls for the movers to get the chest, gives a final look to a confused Edvard and smuggles the kids to safety.
I feel like it’s either obvious or interpretive, but either way i’m not confident i got the idea. Did Isak literally use magic to create a false Fanny and Alexander lying on the floor? Did he teleport the mother into the room with them? Was she already in the room with them? Very confusing to me.
Also the scene where Oscars brothers go to the bishop to negotiate, and the mother, Emilie, comes out and explains to them how she’s happy there and begs for the children to be returned… I didn’t see the threat of why she would ask for her children to come back into that hell. It seemed to me like she’d rather endure death than see that happen, so I’m not sure what threats or leverage the Bishop could have had over her to do that. Was it just loneliness? Did she miss her children so much that she would pretend things were fine? Did he manage to brainwash her briefly?
I would like it if someone could answer NEONBEAR’s questions.
I saw the full, 5 hour television series of F&A. I loved it. I’m happy to read here that at least some people enjoyed the truncated theatrical version, too. Though I don’t think I’ll bother seeing the shorter release, it would interest me to know what effect all the cuts had on the (original version’s) atmosphere.
Would anyone be kind enough to compare and contrast both versions, here on the forum?
“I feel like it’s either obvious or interpretive, but either way i’m not confident i got the idea. Did Isak literally use magic to create a false Fanny and Alexander lying on the floor? Did he teleport the mother into the room with them? Was she already in the room with them? Very confusing to me.”
Reality gets rather fragmented in moments of powerful emotion, as old Mrs. Ekdahl mentions earlier in the film, and that seems to be the case here — Isak’s anger at the monstrous bishop breaks reality, creating the vision of the children lying dead on the floor of their room.
“Also the scene where Oscars brothers go to the bishop to negotiate, and the mother, Emilie, comes out and explains to them how she’s happy there and begs for the children to be returned… I didn’t see the threat of why she would ask for her children to come back into that hell. It seemed to me like she’d rather endure death than see that happen, so I’m not sure what threats or leverage the Bishop could have had over her to do that. Was it just loneliness? Did she miss her children so much that she would pretend things were fine? Did he manage to brainwash her briefly?”
I think the point is that Emilie has to play the part of the good and obedient wife to Vergerus — she certainly doesn’t want the kids to join her in that house. As I remember, Emilie is seen by Isak as he carries the trunk containing the children out of the house, and she gives him a look of what I can only see as being pure gratitude.
I saw this a few years ago, over an afternoon and evening with a group of friends. We were all rather astonished at how great it was, and it immediately became one of my favorite half-dozen films ever. We’re all fantasy buffs, and loved the way the film used the fantastic (as in the escape sequence being discussed). As much as I love The Seventh Seal (which is a top 20 film of all time for me), this is another realm of excellence entirely.
Because so many more people have seen the theatrical cut only (presumably), there’s an argument that it’s among the most underrated films of all time. One or two of us had seen the theatrical cut, and noted how great the scenes that had been omitted were; and none of us, least of all me, could identify a sequence we thought could have been cut without reducing the film’s power.
It was, I believe, the first Criterion collection DVD I bought — I regret now that it has come out on Blu-Ray and I’ve yet to watch the DVDs! I’ve been hoping to show it to another group of friends; hopefully that will happen this winter. There are other films I’ve only seen once that I’m dying to see again (On the Waterfront, Network, Seven Samurai, The Good The Bad and the Ugly, La Dolce Vita), but this tops the list.