Fanny and Alexander by Ingmar Bergman

Fanny and Alexander

You must be careful in your life of film about who you allow to touch you. Some of the people you choose as friends can cut you.

Bergman is not a friend to me. His chambers have ceilings with hanging swords, his property is full of broken mirrors, doors unhinged, barns in flames, and dead cattle. His world is one of felt pain with death controlling the mechanics. You cannot build your life with his art, but only plan your death.

So I keep him at a distance. If it has to come to gloom, I choose the starry bleak dark of Bela Tarr or some of the somber hues of Sokurov.

But this here is generally given a special appreciation apart of the work preceeding it. And rightly so. It is a fantastic achievement.

It spills about his usual model. His corners are widened and rounded. It is not the naked bleak world this, it simply hints it might be possibly beneath a joyous lushness. The pain is incidental.

The structure relies on a kabbalistic symmetrical sequence. It is hinted that the pain found is as expendable as the whim of the magical Jew who conjures it. This is of course Bergman himself, who early on through Alexander is an image-projectionist illustrating a play-within. This play-within is about the ghost of the dead father, which is really about the story we’re seeing, which itself is about Hamlet (which is rehearsed by Alex’s father before his death).

But getting back to the symmetrical sequence. It is perfect in its design. It ties up the story and makes us understand that what preceeds and follows it emanates from it. The house of the Jew (where the sequence takes place) is Borgean, that means it is kabbalistic (labyrinthical and assymetrical), and it is where this kind of stories are usually spun.

I will recommend you watch this. Strictly because it is perfect in itself. It is the kind of beautiful object you touch. It can stay with you as far as you conjure it back to memory. You can use it as a base to spread about life, real art. It is a fine tool. You could chisel great stones with it.

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Categories: Notes

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