Fanny and Alexander (Special Edition Five-Disc Set) - Criterion Collection
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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 familya sprawling, convivial bourgeois clan living in turn-of-the-century Sweden. Intended as Ingmar Bergmans swan song, Fanny and Alexander (Fanny och Alexander) is the legendary filmmakers 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 versionwinner of the 1984 Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Filmbut 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 Bergmans 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 cinemas true luminaries as he labors to realize his crowning production. Featuring Bergman at work with many of his longtime collaboratorsincluding cinematographer Sven Nykvist and actors Erland Josephson, Gunnar Björnstrand, and Harriet AnderssonThe Making of Fanny and Alexander is a witty and revealing portrait of a virtuoso filmmaker.
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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Top Customer Reviews
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 ›
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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 on Jan. 3 2014 by Jan
It is delightful to have the television version in blu-ray. It is fuller, rounder and with much additional detail. Read morePublished on Dec 19 2011 by Mike
I'm not very familiar with other Bergman movies, so I cannot approach this movie from the standpoint of a Bergman fan. Read morePublished on Nov. 20 2002
Though I give Fanny and Alexander only 4 stars, I can totally understand reviewers who give it 5 stars. Read morePublished on Oct. 18 2001 by andrew smith
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
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 morePublished on Nov. 12 2000 by Bohdanna
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 morePublished on Oct. 12 2000 by Don P. Deboer
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
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