Fanny & Alexander

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Seven things you might not know about Fanny & Alexander

Fanny and Alexander is like a summing up of my entire life as a filmmaker.’ Ingmar Bergman

On this day in 1982, Fanny & Alexander was released in Sweden. Get to know the film a little better before seeing it on the stage.

  1. The film was ranked as eighth in The Guardian’s ‘Best arthouse films of all time’ and 84th amongst critics and 16th amongst directors in the BFI’s 2012 Sight & Sound poll of the greatest films ever made. It has a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
  2. There are three versions of the film – it was original conceived as a four-part television film which spanned 312 minutes, making it one of the longest cinematic films in history. On release, Bergman had to cut this to 188 minutes but the full 312 minute version was released a year later to coincide with Christmas. A third version was cut as a miniseries for TV.
  3. At the time it was the largest film ever made in Sweden, with 60 speaking parts and over 1,200 extras, and with a budget of $6million it was also the most expensive.
  4. Fanny isn’t mentioned in the 188 minute cut of the film until almost one hour into its running time, but her name is the first word spoken in the 312 minute television version.
  5. In 1984, Fanny & Alexander was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning four: Best Foreign Language Film, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design, making it the third most nominated film that year behind Terms of Endearment and The Right Stuff.
  6. A minor character in the film, Mikael Bergman, is thought to be Bergman’s alter ego. Mikael is described as ‘young, promising, plays Hamlet’ in the screenplay. ‘Young and promising’ was a term often used to describe Ingmar Bergman at the beginning of his career and whilst he never played Hamlet, he did take the role of Duncan in his own production of Macbeth in 1940.
  7. Stefan Larsson directed a stage adaptation of the film at the Royal Dramatic Theatre which also played at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. in 2013. The production at The Old Vic in 2018 marks the first adaptation in the UK.

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