Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Movie Review - Fanny and Alexander

Again, I believe that Ingmar Bergman's movies are highly over rated. First, it was Wild Strawberries that wasn't good enough and now it's Fanny and Alexander, all 5 hours plus of it, originally broadcast on T.V in Sweden in 1984 in the form of a prologue, four episodes and an epilogue.

The Prologue introduces 11 year old Alexander as he finds himself in an empty house and his imagination goes into overdrive . Episode One introduces all the members of the Ekdahl family over Christmas in 1907, showing us their individual personalities, faults and relationships. Episode Two deals with Fanny and Alexander's father's death and introduces the Bishop. Episode Three deals with Fanny and Alexander coping with life in their new home. Episode Four sees them escape and follows Alexander in Isak's home until all are reunited. The Epilogue tries to leave us with a happy ending.

Generally, Bergman keeps the camera focused on a group of people until their entire conversation is complete. Each scene serves a definite purpose in the movie which is to somehow advance the respective character's relationship and give us a glimpse into their relationship.

The Prologue and fourth episode, to me, seem the only ones worthy of mention. The Prologue is an amazing little piece; it's unfortunate that Episode One, which follows immediately after, doesn't impress as much. I can identify with Alexander's imagination, his wanting to spend time under a table, his seeing things become alive and move. The first three episodes didn't live up to expectations, apart from the magnificent costumes, set design and atmosphere creation, probably because they're slower as compared to the fourth episode, don't really lead anywhere definite, and tend to get boring quickly.

Episode Four seems to me to be a masterpiece. I don't think there was anything about it I didn't like. Maybe its success can be attributed to it's focus on Alexander, as the bits in the movie that deal with Alexander alone tend to be the best parts - Alexander wandering through Isak's home/shop with the puppets and statues coming to life, his time spent with Isak's nephew Aron, and Isak's bedtime story all seem to be perfect. There are elements of darkness taking the shape of grandeur, and magical realism, that make you feel as if you're seeing this one episode mostly through a child's eyes, that make this episode all the more special.

The Epilogue seemed more or less unnecessary and a waste of time to me. Like I said, the fourth episode was great but the overall impression seems to be one of mediocrity and over-ratedness. I wouldn't mind seeing the shorter theatrical version though, just to see the difference between the two.



Anarchytect said...

just thought i'd say hi.. and that i loved 'fanny and alexander'- all 5 hours of it.. :)

Daniel said...

Hi there,

To be honest, this is one movie I really wanted to like. There's nothing really bad about the movie, just that it didn't live up to the hype. I found it mediocre when I was expecting greatness.

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