By Chermaine Goh
Fanny And Alexander (Fanny och Alexander) by Ingmar Bergman (1982, Sweden) is a film that Bergman intended to be his last feature film and his comeback to Sweden. He wrote the screenplay and director the play. Set in Swedish town Uppsala spanning a period of two years 1907-09, this film depicts the turning point of siblings Fanny Ekdahl (Pernilla Allwin) and Alexander Ekdahl (Bertil Gurve) lives; the happier times with their kind father and the darker times with their sneaky stepfather. He covers unconventional themes such as magic and religion.
This film is loosely based on Bergan’s own childhood. The Ekdahl apartment, for instance, is almost an exact copy of Bergan’s own grandmother’s house. There is also much similarity in terms of Bergan the character Alexandra, who bears an uncanny resemblance to when Bergan himself was a child. At the start of the film there was rich warm colours that depicted the merry festive spirits and the culture of Sweden very well. Gradually, as the tone turned more sober, the colours faded to darker, duller colours. Bergman showed the contrast of the happier and less happy times of Alexander and Fanny very well, and I enjoyed watching this film very much. There is a longer 5 hour version of the film for those who would like to see more character development and to understand the story better.
Also, Bergman and Alexander share the same pastime, playing with the puppet theatre and magic lantern. That is not all, as many of the other characters also bear similarities to people Bergman knew as a child. The grandmother Helena Ekdahl is” in essence an affectionate portrait of Bergman’s own beloved grandmother. And her son Carl appears to have much in common with Bergman’s own “Uncle Carl”, whose eccentricities are described in particular detail in The Magic Lantern. The nanny Maj bears a more than passing resemblance to Bergman’s own nanny Mait.”. (Ingmar Bergman productions) Possibly because Bergman really went through something similar and really knows his character motives well, he was able to piece the film together coherently and smoothly into such a successful film.
I was inspired to write a poem of what Alexander went through during that 2 years of the time. He is, unquestionably, the main character of the film and the character that went through the most. He will never be able to forget what he went through, and that will create a deep wound in him.
Lived in hell, with his sneaky stepfather
Everyday he prayed and wished
Wished and prayed
That one day he would get out of this hell
Never gave up hope
That an accident would happen
To his wrenched stepfather
For a while
He cussed and swore at god
For his once carefree days
Were now filled with fear and sorrow
One day he was saved
For one day
An accident did happen
A horrible fire occurred
Which burnt his sneaky stepfather alive
The question that lingers
Was it really an accident
Or was there more to it
That, we will never know
He got his freedom back
But will he every be truly free
For his conscience still haunts him
Every now and then
About The Author: Chermaine is a sleep-deprived film and writing student studying in Singapore Polytechnic. When she isn’t working on her never-ending assignments, she will most likely be found catching up on movies and books. She suffers from severe wanderlust.
1. Ingmar Bergman Productions. “Fanny And Alexander”. 17 December 1982. Web. 22 June 2013. <http://ingmarbergman.se/en/production/fanny-and-alexander-9870#!about-film-25>
2. Geoffrey Macnab. “Memories Of A Child Star”. The Guardian. 30 May 2008. Web. 22 June 2013. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2008/may/30/2>
3. Vincent Canby. “Fanny And Alexander”. The New York Times. 17 June 1983. Web. 22 June 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/1983/06/17/movies/fanny-and-alexander.html.
4. Rick Moody. “Fanny And Alexander: Bergman’s Bildungsroman. The Criterion Collection. 8 November 2011. web. 22 June 2013. <http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/347-fanny-and-alexander-bergman-s-bildungsroman>
5. “Fanny And Alexander”. Wikipedia. 1 June 2013. web. 22 June 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanny_and_Alexander>