Fanny and Alexander.
A film by Ingmar Bergman. 1983. 3 hours 10 min. Watched on TV.
Emilie loses her husband (heart attack?), marries The Bishop who is an ogre and treats her children, Fanny and Alexander, terribly. Emilie finally flees him back to her dead husband’s family.
That’s the extremely condensed version. Quite strange and hypnotic at places, especially when Alexander wanders through Uncle Isak’s house and meets Ishmael. Fanny’s place in the title is her biggest role, tho’ she’s a cute little dickens. Dickens … the story rather reminded me of Dickens. Ghosts and evil grown-ups and big family gatherings. I loved the grandmother and Uncle Isak, just like I was supposed to.
Ingmar Bergman is a giant of world cinema. So by now I should have seen more than one of his films, right? If only for my cinematic literacy. Somehow I’ve never gotten around to it.
I remember watching Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert review Fanny and Alexander on their TV show; what was their show called by that time? At the Movies … Siskel & Ebert & the Movies … ? They loved Fanny and Alexander. Loved it! For some reason a clip they showed of the family playing at a party, especially a man chasing a woman around the dinner table, flickers in my memory. I can’t dredge up anything else. Still, I do remember enjoying the movie, and that it held up throughout its 3+ hours. I can even feel a twinge of anger at the cruelty of the stepfather, though perhaps that’s more from reading an overview of the plot than anything else.
The Criterion Collection makes available the 5 hour version that showed on Swedish television, for those who want to see Bergman’s “vision … expressed at its fullest.”