Fanny and Alexander

Director: Ingmar Bergman


Following the success of his recent Saraband, Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s 1982 masterpiece Fanny and Alexander has been re-released. This was meant to be the veteran film-maker’s farewell to the cinema, and it contains a surprisingly strong sense of forgiveness, or at least a melancholy understanding of life’s pain, perils and pleasures. It’s first and foremost an affectionate tribute to the director’s childhood. Set in 1910, it traces the joys and sorrows of the Ekdahl family in the town of Uppsala (Bergman’s birthplace). Helena Ekdahl is a widow who is now head of the family and has turned over the running of the local theatre to a younger member of her clan. At first the story is chiefly about the Ekdahls and their troupe of actors and everything is fairly idyllic. But Bergman then introduces the local bishop, a zealot who marries one of the Ekdahl women and incarcerates her children Fanny and Alexander in the dreary church mansion.
Those stalwart pillars of Bergman’s world, Church and Theatre, collide in headlong opposition, the one representing dignity and depression, the other hedonism and generosity.

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