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Fanny & Alexander (Criterion) (Blu-Ray)

Bertil Guve , Pernilla Allwin , Ingmar Bergman    R (Restricted)   Blu-ray
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Product Description

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It was instantly acclaimed the crowning masterwork of Ingmar Bergman's career, and time has not dimmed the Olympian status of Fanny and Alexander. Bergman drew upon memories of his own childhood for this portrait of the Ekdahls, the upper-class Swedish family whose celebrations and tribulations are seen through the eyes of 10-year-old Alexander (Bertil Guve). The world of the theater, of puppet shows and magic lanterns, does battle in this scenario with the cold realities of the palace of the bishop--a man whose influence over Alexander's mother gives the movie the stark outlines of a fairy tale.

As for the Criterion five-disc DVD: This may be the most beautiful DVD release ever devoted to a single film. The original 188-minute international release is here, of course, in all its original glory. (It won four Oscars: foreign language film, costumes, art direction/set decoration, and cinematography--the last to longtime Bergman collaborator Sven Nykvist.) An audio commentary by Peter Cowie gives useful background.

That film was carved out of Bergman's preferred 312-minute version, telecast on Swedish TV and included here. While the shorter cut remains a wonderful movie, and complete unto itself, the five-hour film is a deep, luxurious expansion. There is more of the Christmas Eve party that begins the film, more of the theater, more of Alexander's imagination. Especially meaningful is a long sequence between Fanny and Alexander and their doomed father, as he demonstrates the nature of storytelling with a simple chair.

Also here is The Making of Fanny and Alexander, Bergman's feature-length self-portrait, and a fascinating look at the rapt attention he bestows on actors and camera. DVD extras include a penetrating hourlong TV interview Bergman gave in 1984, and a 40-minute documentary shot in 2004 with reminiscences from cast and crew (including actors Guve, Pernilla August, and Erland Josephson). A handsome booklet includes essays by Rick Moody and Paul Arthur, and one disc is made up of pithy introductions shot by Bergman in 2003, for 11 of his classics, plus a sampling of trailers. Fanny and Alexander was Bergman's final theatrical film, though he has gone right on making TV movies and writing screenplays. This is a fitting treatment of his triumph. --Robert Horton

Product Description

Through the eyes of ten-year-old Alexander, we witness the delights and conflicts of the Ekdahl family, a sprawling bourgeois clan in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Sweden. Ingmar Bergman (The Seventh Seal) intended Fanny and Alexander as his swan song, and it is the legendary director’s warmest and most autobiographical film, a four-time Academy Award–winning triumph that combines his trademark melancholy and emotional intensity with immense joy and sensuality. The Criterion Collection is proud to present both the theatrical release and the original five-hour television version of this great work. Also included in the box set is Bergman’s own feature-length documentary The Making of “Fanny and Alexander,” a unique glimpse into his creative process.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Jan. 3 2014
By Jan
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Of course it's a stunningly moving film--it's Bergman, mature and alight with brilliance. But the product itself is excellent; the second DVD fascinating.
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By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray
As many already know, this magnificent Criterion blu-ray contains the film in two forms; the original,
longer TV mini-series, and a version trimmed down for theatrical release.

But this is a masterpiece however you cut it. Somehow, in one film, Bergman has managed to combine
tragedy, broad and subtle humor, melodrama, philosophy, mystery, magical realism, kitchen sink reality,
controlled performances and big bombastic performances, etc. and weave it all into an organic whole with
a wonderfully (and shockingly for Bergman) positive message about the joy of life, the importance of
savoring family, friends, passions, and the moment itself while we can.

Populated by an unforgettable gallery of characters based on Bergman's own familial history, this is an
intimate epic that takes us inside the lives of an upper-class, artistic Swedish family soon after the start
of the 20th century and the misfortunes and triumphs that befall them. Not quite like any other film I've
ever seen - either by Bergman or anyone else. This is a child's eye view of the world, mixed with the
wisdom of an aging man looking back, with a kind eye, on life itself.

It's strange to say, perhaps blasphemy, but I actually liked the cut down feature a touch more than
the 4 part TV version it was cut from. For me, there is something a little more focused and impactful
about it. Perhaps that's just because I saw it first, but much like Altman's 'Vincent & Theo' (which also
was first shown as a European mini-series) I found the extra material pulled my attention a few too
many places, and sometimes answered mysteries I liked remaining as mysteries. But I will freely admit
I'm in the minority, and to be clear I LOVE both versions.
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Format:DVD
Looking for a movie which has everything and anything for the whole family? Looking for a substantial cameo of past European culture and human passion? Looking for lives and loves as Nordic as Carlsberg, L°ytens akkevit, IKEA or Kalajastatorppa? Drama, comics and antics antique and young and fresh? No need to search further than this miracle of a movie, Fanny and Alexander, by the late great Ingmar Bergman, his last and ultimate work for the screen. This fabulous fable on film describes the history of the Ekdahl family , a reasonably well-to-do group of adults and children in the high bourgeois circles of the years before the horrors of World War One, playing, say, around 1905. Not only is there a kaleidoscopic mix of pastoral idyll, although Bergman's phobia of (Lutheran) pastors weighs in strongly in the latter part of the movie, and high drama, but it all gives an intimate picture of Sweden with its folklore and festivals, but also with the pride and prejudice of life in that country of booze and birches as it was a hundred years ago. All is as perceived by the young siblings, Fanny and Alexander, whose wide-open eyes register the antics of farbror(uncle)Karlchen, the indebted professor with his hysteric German wife, of the meandering, philandering other uncle, Gustav Adolf, the mild but doomed theatre director Oscar, the children's dad, his widow, the ethereal Emilie, and her dreadful bishop, stately old and beautiful grandma Helena with her tender Jewish lover Isak Jacobi. If you know and love the water-colour images from his home by the likewise Swedish artist, Carl Larsson, from that very same epoch, this most literary masterpiece is for you and your family. This is not a one-night stand, you would want to see it over and over. The copy of the present reviewer has discreet English subtitles to the Swedish sounds, so far (2012) there seems to be no French version available. Never mind the language, but here you have a gem for your DVD collection!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Film Ever Made June 29 1999
Format:VHS Tape
I cannot even begin to describe the excellence this film posesses, radiates, and emanates. This is Bergman's epic masterpiece, a wonderful tale of two siblings who try to cope with their death of their father and their mother's marriage to an ultrareligious ogre through magic and illusion. It has within what is probably the best art direction in the history of cinema, but be forewarned that this is no costume romp. Instead it is a deftly woven tale of a genuinely loving family and their resistance, in the end, to evil. Great performances, production design, writing, and especially directing make this film, truly, the best picture in the history of cinema. I would not say that easily either. Please see this movie, your mind will grow because of it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fairy Tale for Adults May 10 2009
Format:DVD
An earlier reviewer compared the film to literature. It is a tempting comparison. Fanny and Alexander is rich and dense, in the best sense of those words; it gathers and resolves itself at a novel's pace; it is crammed with secondary characters and, without being digressive, it gives glimpses of those lives as well.

The Christmas celebration scenes of the first Act are filled with an exuberance and joy which have rarely been better expressed in art--the only real equivalents I can think of are literary (the party scene in "The Dead", or Nikolai Rostov's homecoming in "War and Peace"). This being the universe of serious art, however, dread and death still skulk about and, though they do strike, the film never becomes oppressive but instead transforms gradually into a marvellous fairy tale.

I have seen the Seventh Seal, Hour of the Wolf, Persona, Shame, Scenes from a Marriage, and Cries and Whispers. Fanny and Alexander is the Bergman film I most love.

The Criterion DVD transfer is beautiful. This movie makes me wish I had a large, wide-screen television on which to watch it. The five-disc set includes both the original theatrical release (approximately three hours) and the even longer version which Bergman made for Swedish television. Most people will be content with owning the three hour version, which Criterion has made separately available for about half the price. While the television version feels even more novelistic--secondary characters get more time, certain details get filled in, and certain themes are allowed fuller expression--I cannot say that it is definitively better. Each version has its particular appeal and indeed is a different film.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better in blue ray
It is delightful to have the television version in blu-ray. It is fuller, rounder and with much additional detail. Read more
Published on Dec 19 2011 by Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars We need this movie in DVD format!
I'm not very familiar with other Bergman movies, so I cannot approach this movie from the standpoint of a Bergman fan. Read more
Published on Nov. 20 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Bergman's Powerful Farewell
Though I give Fanny and Alexander only 4 stars, I can totally understand reviewers who give it 5 stars. Read more
Published on Oct. 18 2001 by andrew smith
3.0 out of 5 stars Fanny and Alexander - Too Long.
Fanny and Alexander should be rated "TL" for too long!
It seemed to just drag along, with more emphasis placed on costumes than a decent story line. Read more
Published on Aug. 3 2001 by Kwai Chang Finkleberger
2.0 out of 5 stars IT IS THE BEST MOVIE EVER MADE,BUT NOT THE VIDEO ON SALE
I was waiting for 2 years for the DVD of Fanny and Alexander,but seems it will never "be released".The video is very poor quality,and auch! Read more
Published on Nov. 12 2000 by Bohdanna
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Christmas Movie
I have to admit that I understand why other people would find this film pointless or dull at times. It doesn't seem to be conveying a clear message. Read more
Published on Oct. 12 2000 by Don P. Deboer
5.0 out of 5 stars What's the original aspect ratio?
I wish someone could inform me: What's the original aspect ratio of this film? Is it 2.35:1 or 1.33:1?
Is the VHS in the original aspect ratio of the film? Read more
Published on Sept. 26 2000 by "f19f"
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting
When I saw this film for the first time I had an almost visceral reaction to it. Its haunting imagery has stayed with me ever since. Read more
Published on May 6 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a stew, not a hot dog.
As is clear from the reviews, this movie isn't for everyone. Much more like reading a novel or seeing a play, the pleasure of the thing is in the dedication of the viewer to the... Read more
Published on May 3 2000 by Eric Antonow
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