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Fanny and Alexander


Possibly the best film I've ever seen.

Made in 1982, this was to have been Bergman's last film - his swansong - until he unretired himself to make a few more.

There is I believe a shorter version in existence. I've only seen the 5 hour version. It was made for Swedish TV in four 100 minute parts, so it's quite easy to watch in that way - one or two parts at a time.

It works on so many levels - and works extraordinarily well on all of them.

Visually, it's a stunningly rich period drama. The costumes and interiors are simply gorgeous.

As a straightforward tale of love and death and fear and loathing and power and punishment it is expertly crafted and does not disappoint - nor does it make unreasonable demands on the audience. It is five hours long, but it doesn't drag at all. It is an easy film to watch.

And of course there is plenty of philosophical depth as well - the theme of masks - the balance between understanding reality and just simply living life - but you don't have to engage in that to enjoy the film. Unlike much of Tarkovsky's work - which although brilliant, can be extremely demanding on the audience, forcing the viewer to confront the philosophical issues through lack of any easy storyline to follow - this film is gentle on the audience. Like a fine piece of classical music, it can be watched over and over again, each time revealing a new layer of meaning and enjoyment.

Did I mention this is possibly my favourite film of all time?

Copyright 2004 Paul Mackilligin