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Fanny and Alexander (Special Edition Five-Disc Set) - Criterion Collection

Bertil Guve , Pernilla Allwin , Ingmar Bergman    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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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

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Through the wide eyes of ten-year-old Alexander (Bertil Guve), we witness the great delights and conflicts of the Ekdahl family—a sprawling, convivial bourgeois clan living in turn-of-the-century Sweden. Intended as Ingmar Bergman’s swan song, Fanny and Alexander (Fanny och Alexander) is the legendary filmmaker’s warmest and most autobiographical film, a triumph that combines his trademark melancholy and emotional rigor with immense joyfulness and sensuality. The Criterion Collection is proud to present not only the theatrical version—winner of the 1984 Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film—but also, for the first time on home video in the U.S., the original five-hour television version, together in a single boxed set. Also included is Bergman’s own feature-length documentary The Making of Fanny and Alexander (Dokument Fanny och Alexander), offering a unique glimpse into his creative process and a candid behind-the-scenes look at a monumental film in the making. INCLUDED WITH FANNY AND ALEXANDER, FOR THE FIRST TIME ON DVD: THE MAKING OF FANNY AND ALEXANDER The Making of Fanny and Alexander is a fascinating look at the creation of a masterpiece. Directed by Ingmar Bergman himself, this feature-length documentary chronicles the methods of one of cinema’s true luminaries as he labors to realize his crowning production. Featuring Bergman at work with many of his longtime collaborators—including cinematographer Sven Nykvist and actors Erland Josephson, Gunnar Björnstrand, and Harriet Andersson—The Making of Fanny and Alexander is a witty and revealing portrait of a virtuoso filmmaker.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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, Lřytens 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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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Christmas Movie Oct. 12 2000
Format:VHS Tape
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. On the other hand I don't think it is a movie about delivering a message. It seems to be a movie that explores themes that lie at polar ends from one another like reality and fantasy, and good and evil. The movie seems to be an exercise in those paradoxes and contrasts. The movie also seems to end somewhere in the middle without being able to make a conclusion about those contrasts but life goes on anyway. The biggest part of the contrast is the difference between the household of a loving, albeit eccentric, family of actors and the household that contains the stern clergymen (now stepfather) and his sterile and oppressive family. Then there is the Jewish uncle whose home seems to carry elements of the mystical. The joy of the movie is not so much is what it says but how it is saying it. Allow yourself to get lost among the beautiful images and colorful characters. Its like a Swedish "Hannah and Her Sisters" with a gothic twist. Watching this movie made me remember what it was like to belong to a family clan full of pride and ruled by a loving and, like the rest of this indulgent family, less than perfect matriarch. If I had to say it was about anything I would say it is about the love among a family clan and the confusion between good and evil, and truth and lies for a young boy. Remember this movie is much more than Fanny and Alexander, it is also about an entire cast of characters which are a joy to see (e.g. the adulterous uncle, the favorite maid, the emotionally lost and trapped mother, the favorite son, the alcoholic uncle and his miserable wife etc etc). I recommend you find a way to rent a PAL VCR so you can enjoy the full length British version which contains an extra 2 hours or thereabouts.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful
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.
Published 7 months ago by Jan
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 A Fairy Tale for Adults
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... Read more
Published on May 10 2009 by Javed Her'aat
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 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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