Thursday, April 26, 2012

Masterpieces Classics: Fanny and Alexander (1982)

What is it that makes Fanny and Alexander so great? I think it comes to the multiple perspectives.

Ingmar Bergman, with this film, has crafted an utter masterpiece with this one. Everything about it is something I can praise. There's great acting and lovely lingering cinematography. There's a great script that's almost like a lore or fable. I consider it a fairy tale for adults.

This film is very adult for many reasons. First off, I think the pacing is consistently glacial, in a good way. There is a whole family, the Ekdahls, that is portrayed through the entire film. Secondly, it is much more than your average Disney-film. There is darkness everywhere, especially inside our subjects, Fanny and Alexander.

The film opens with Alexander playing, but bored. Later, a Christmas feast. This is one of the slowest openings to a film that I've seen, but it sets up everything needed for the film. The dinner portrays the Ekdahls as picture-perfect, and the next morning after is when you realize the flaws and desires in every single Ekdahl.

For example, a strong uncle has the servant Maj as his mistress. He wants to buy her a cafe and also wants to show her that he is a strong lover. She succumbs and they make love (See, it's an adult fairy tale!), but the uncle embarrassingly breaks the bed, literally. He's obviously ashamed, but instead says "I'll have to buy you a cafe and a bed!"

Ingmar Bergman's film is very dark, but also lighthearted. What was also a comedic success was when the same uncle farts. All the kids in the Ekdahls are amused, including Fanny and Alexander. He asks for a candle. He puts it out with another fart, and the screen goes black.

After the extended opening, the father performs in Hamlet. Instead, he suddenly dies. A bishop watches over the mother, Emilie, and finally asks to marry her. Alexander shows obvious resentment, but Emilie insists that the children need a father figure in their childhood. The bishop abuses both of them, and that's when the story picks up.

What the film expresses are perspectives, as mentioned in the beginning. There are many perspectives. The film, though titled Fanny and Alexander is not all about them. It is about the Ekdahls, and the bishop. But really, who would see a film titled A Bishop and the Ekdahls?

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