Fanny and Alexander was instantly acclaimed the crowning masterwork of Ingmar Bergman’s career, and time has not dimmed its Olympian status. 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.
The initial matriarchal family, the Ekdahl’s household, is filled with joy and freedom, while the patriarchal family, Vergerus household, is filled with restriction, conflict and literally, pain. While the movie seems to imply that the second family is also matriarchal with an evil twist, it feels very patriarchal because all the women fear the Bishop.
A wonderful Ingmar Bergman!
Awards: The film was released in the United States in 1983 and won four Academy Awards:
- Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (Director Ingmar Bergman)
- Best Cinematography (Sven Nykvist)
- Best Art Direction (Anna Asp, Susanne Lingheim)
- Costume Design (Marik Vos-Lundh)
Ingmar Bergman was nominated for both Directing and Writing Original Screenplay but was not awarded. The film also received the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film.