261-264 Fanny and Alexander

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MoonlitKnight
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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#276 Post by MoonlitKnight » Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:57 am

Got my copy in the mail a whole 3 days in advance. :-$

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aox
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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#277 Post by aox » Sun Nov 20, 2011 3:05 pm

I hate to say it, but there is some bad with this release.

While the theatrical cut looks stunning, the 5 hour cut on one disc is far too compressed. In scenes without movement, it is acceptable (and to be fair, most of the film is stationary with an objective camera), but there is macroblocking abound in scenes with any movement.

The easiest example is the first shot of the film with the running water over the waterfall and the title. The water is in pixelated blocks and practically pulling the letters off the screen along with it.

Grain is intact, but even that seems compromised when viewing the 3 hour cut.

I won't write this off totally. There is a lot to be proud of. But overall, I question CC's decision to place a 5 hour film on one 50 gig disc.

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Gregory
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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#278 Post by Gregory » Sun Nov 20, 2011 3:41 pm

I haven't received my set yet, and it's a terrible shame to hear that it's not all it could have been.
Seems like it would have been much better to divide the full version in two parts as on the DVDs, including The Making of "Fanny and Alexander" with one part and the rest of the supplements with the other part. The 5+ hour version should have at least one break/intermission anyway (in Bergman's opinion, which I happen to agree with) and that's typically how it's done when this has been screened theatrically. Distributing the content that way should have allowed the bitrate to be high enough. If not, the best solution IMO would be the option to buy a 3-disc set with only Bergman's preferred version and the supplements, without the 3-hour version.
Last edited by Gregory on Sun Nov 20, 2011 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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aox
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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#279 Post by aox » Sun Nov 20, 2011 3:46 pm

I don't want to come off as alarmist. It's still a great set, and the five hour cut actually looks better than I ever thought a 5 hour film on a 50 gig disc would look.... but again, it isn't perfect and I question CC's decision here. To be fair, it is about the same quality of The Last Emperor BD (which was a 3 hour film).

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knives
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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#280 Post by knives » Sun Nov 20, 2011 3:48 pm

Is it at least an improvement on the DVD?

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aox
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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#281 Post by aox » Sun Nov 20, 2011 3:49 pm

*
knives wrote:Is it at least an improvement on the DVD?
Night and Day


*1st World Problems

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stevewhamola
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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#282 Post by stevewhamola » Mon Nov 21, 2011 1:18 am

When I heard the whole TV cut was to be on one disc I remained cautiously optimistic, but now that we have all the bitrate information and first-hand comments I'm a little let down. Of the two versions to max out the bitrate on, why choose the theatrical version? The theatrical cut and the Making Of doc should've shared a disc to let the TV cut spread out over two discs. Criterion might as well have put the entire Three Colors trilogy on one disc.

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tenia
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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#283 Post by tenia » Mon Nov 21, 2011 2:37 am

Indeed, with a making of having, as an "extra feature", a lower bitrate, 3hr of theatrical cut + 1h40 of making of on one disc would have probably saved some space for the TV version. In fact, if they really wanted not to add up a 4th disc, the best idea would have been to split the extra features over a 2-disc TV version.

In the end, I'm a bit sad that Criterion chose not to use a 2nd disc for it, probably to keep the price down. I think we can all agree that a 4 disc edition would have been the most logical, and that we would probably all have paid for the oncost. It is a nice idea from them trying to keep the price point down, but it should never be done by compromising the technical quality of the set.

Now, unfortunately, the set will stay as it is, and it is sad to think that the quality is very unlikely to be better than this, where the TV Version being the most awaited thing from this boxset, and having a clearly non-optimum quality. It is indeed disappointing.

Fortunately, Jerome Soulet from Gaumont said that Gaumont is finally clearing the rights for a French release of the TV Version (likely for 2013), we will see what happens here.

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AK
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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#284 Post by AK » Wed Dec 16, 2015 2:15 pm

tenia wrote:Fortunately, Jerome Soulet from Gaumont said that Gaumont is finally clearing the rights for a French release of the TV Version (likely for 2013), we will see what happens here.
Does anyone have the Gaumont Blu? The Criterion is on sale, but the Gaumont spreads the TV version onto two disks, and logically shouldn't suffer from the compression issues. But I'd like to be sure, so any confirmation from someone who has it would be much appreciated.

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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#285 Post by tenia » Wed Dec 16, 2015 3:41 pm

http://www.dvdclassik.com/test/blu-ray- ... re-gaumont" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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AK
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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#286 Post by AK » Wed Dec 16, 2015 3:57 pm

Exactly what I was looking for. Many thanks! Since it's been discussed how a single 50Gb Blu-ray was in and of itself a bad choice on Criterion's part and the root of their problem in terms of compression, the following excerpt from the French review is very revealing:
Jean-Marc Oudry wrote:On louera également le choix pertinent de Gaumont d'avoir encodé la version TV et ses 5h20 sur deux Blu-ray (75 Go au total) au lieu d'un seul chez Criterion. Ce choix a son importance : si l'on observe les captures ci-dessous (après agrandissement), on constate du macroblocking et une perte de définition sur l'édition Criterion, dus à une compression trop sévère.
... meaning the difference between the 48 GB on the Criterion in comparison to the 75 GB on the Gaumont is humongous and indicative of the shoehorning that took place. I'll definitely get that French Blu instead of the Criterion, then.

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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#287 Post by Zot! » Wed Dec 16, 2015 5:34 pm

I assume this is not English friendly.

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hearthesilence
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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#288 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Dec 16, 2015 7:48 pm

Doesn't look like it:
Sous-titres : Français / Français pour sourds et malentendants
Just French subs and French captioning for the hard-of-hearing.

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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#289 Post by Costa » Thu Nov 03, 2016 2:59 am

With all this talk of the Decalogue frame rate, I was wondering:
Was this also shot at 25fps and therefore slowed down in this release?

I see everywhere the duration is marked as 312 minutes so given that the Criterion TV version is 322 minutes, it must be slowed down, right?

(same question goes for Das Boot. I couldn't find a relevant thread. Was it shot at 25fps?)

worriedfire
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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#290 Post by worriedfire » Thu Nov 03, 2016 3:24 am

Costa wrote:Was this also shot at 25fps and therefore slowed down in this release?

I see everywhere the duration is marked as 312 minutes so given that the Criterion TV version is 322 minutes, it must be slowed down, right?
The Swedish Film Institute's database lists the TV version as 326 minutes and 24 frames per seconds.

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djproject
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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#291 Post by djproject » Thu Nov 03, 2016 9:26 am

Unlike Dekalog, Fanny and Alexander was initially intended for theatrical release and it was only afterward it was shown on Swedish television in a longer form.

(Also, I still maintain to this day that I don't see either version as an "either/or" scenario. In other words, the positives you can name on the television version do not come at the expense of the theatrical's negatives ... if any.)

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RobertB
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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#292 Post by RobertB » Wed Nov 09, 2016 9:28 am

I was always under the impression that this was planned from the beginning to be a TV-series, with a shorter cinema version. Swedish TV (SVT) are co-producers and according to ingmarbergman.se the TV cut is the one he did first

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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#293 Post by Zot! » Wed Nov 09, 2016 5:38 pm

I agree with the fact that the TV version came first. I argued this point 6 years ago in this thread. but nobody was amused. Accordingly, its not out of the question that f&a was shot at 25fps. Quite likely actually, but not sure if it has been released as such on home video. Somebody with more time on their hands could probably check the pitch of some of the classical pieces.

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Shrew
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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#294 Post by Shrew » Thu Nov 10, 2016 9:17 am

I'm not an expert, but I believe the TV cut was originally meant to be seen theatrically, and indeed was released in Swedish theaters before its TV premiere.

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RobertB
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Re: 261-264 Fanny and Alexander

#295 Post by RobertB » Thu Nov 10, 2016 11:10 am

I'm no expert, but I have my memory of when it was filmed, and I have sources to back me up.

In Swedish
Projektets kostnader och risker var den huvudsakliga anledningen till att filmen kom till i två versioner, den ursprungligt tänkta TV-serien på sammanlagt fem timmar och den kortare biografversionen (197 minuter) som främst var tänkt att kunna säljas utomlands.
The costs and the risks where the main reason why the film was done in two versions, the originally planned 5 hour TV-series, and the shorter cinema-version (197 minutes) that primarily was intendet to be sold abroad.

It is correct that the long version also was shown in cinema a year after the short version had it's premier. I expect the success of the film made this possible.

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Mr Sausage
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Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)

#296 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon May 08, 2017 8:48 am

DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, May 29th

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This thread is not spoiler free. This is a discussion thread; you should expect plot points of the individual films under discussion to be discussed openly. See: spoiler rules.

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I encourage members to submit questions, either those designed to elicit discussion and point out interesting things to keep an eye on, or just something you want answered. This will be extremely helpful in getting discussion started. Starting is always the hardest part, all the more so if it's unguided. Questions can be submitted to me via PM.

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Re: Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)

#297 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon May 08, 2017 8:50 am

This is a special Lists Project edition of the Film Club. Next Monday we'll discuss the runner up of the Bergman Auteur List. The winner, Persona, had already been chosen for the Film Club and so was ineligible.

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Re: Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)

#298 Post by ando » Wed May 17, 2017 2:03 am

This is an exquisitely crafted film which requires especially close consideration, imo. It demands that you to bring an unusual degree of attention. Not many films are capable of it, frankly. Or, perhaps I should say not many directors elicit this level of attention initially. Maintaining it is another matter.

On one of the special features a collaborator remarked that Bergman brought together all of the signature elements of his previous work with Fanny & Alexander, which in one sense is to be expected and in another, provides us with a curious (would be) swan song. As opposed to identifying the films where he did this or that I'm intrigued by that statement to look for qualities that are clearly identifiable as Bergmanesque. I don't think it's easy to do with any director save obvious narrative ploys like the mcguffin and with Bergman I'd argue that his methods became more subtle as he developed and experimented with each successive film. I suppose every director (or artist, for that matter) attempts to develop a method of communication that conveys exactly what they want to express, which for some takes a lifetime while others have the gifts to convey it fairly early. Where exactly Bergman fits in this I'm not certain but, again, that statement made by his colleague suggests that perhaps this film is something like the apotheosis of his creative development (something he'd probably disgree with - after all, he didn't stop making movies after this "final film").

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Re: Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)

#299 Post by Sloper » Wed May 24, 2017 1:14 pm

How do people feel about the sequence where Isak rescues the children? With reference to ando’s question above, this taps into one of Bergman’s main preoccupations, namely the blurred line between fantasy and reality. Isak’s rescue attempt seems at first to rely on a hoary theatrical trick involving a large wooden chest and a blanket. Edvard sees through this trick immediately, but then Isak performs a kind of prayer/magic trick that causes Edvard to see the children lying on the floor upstairs; Emilie tells him not to touch them, perhaps implying that she knows this is an intangible illusion. It’s a wildly improbable turn of events.

The ‘realistic’ version of this story would see Emilie and the children condemned to remain at the bishop’s house, maybe until they suffered some form of untimely death like the first Mrs. Vergerus and her offspring. With Isak’s apparently frustrated and despairing gesture at the foot of the staircase, followed by a fade-to-white (during which the illusion is conjured upstairs), the film seems to be saying that this salvation could only be accomplished in this medium, cinema. In the theatre, Isak’s trick would be too obvious, but in a film you can dissolve the image and make the children appear to still be upstairs, and simultaneously pretend that they’re in the trunk Isak makes off with.

Fanny and Alexander start off in the Ekdahl household, surrounded by warmth, comfort, boredom, mediocrity, silliness, games, and dysfunctional relationships that nonetheless cohere into something like a family. Theatre, fantasy and imagination are relatively innocent, communal forces in this world, and their potential to induce nightmares and sublime ecstasies remains marginal: in the prologue, the erotic statue beckons to Alexander and the Grim Reaper lurks in the distance, but the grandmother comes in to shatter the illusion.

Then the children find themselves plunged into the cold, bleak world of the Vergerus household, which is defined by privation and abuse. At first glance this might seem like an anti-theatrical space, similar in spirit to the rationalism embodied by another Vergerus in The Magician. Certainly, the bishop punishes Alexander for making up stories. But Alexander’s nightmare visions in the dark attic make it clear that this is not a place where the imagination is simply stifled: rather, the capacity to make things up is directed into a different channel. Alexander at first conjures up fantasies that subvert the bishop’s authority, but he is then tortured into amplifying that authority through his imagination, so that even the ghosts of Edvard’s children join him in punishing Alexander (and like their father, they obviously enjoy doing so). So this is a place where nightmares are given free rein, in the service of an abusive patriarch.

The ‘magical’ segue into the Jacobi household indicates that this new setting will be a more complex, ambiguous space. Until now, there has been fantasy and reality, and reasonably clear distinctions between them; from this point on, anything that can be imagined can also be realised and made tangible. We, as the audience, need to accept this ridiculous plot twist whereby the children are saved, and we need to understand that it’s not just a cop-out, not just a way of bringing about a happy ending. Isak’s beautiful but seemingly interminable reading from his book – which seems to transition from a reading into a meandering dreamlike fantasy that moves away from what is written on the page, as Isak looks up from it and continues the story – helps to emphasise this movement into a state of mind between sleep and waking, where we experience incomprehensible dreams that seem to be ambiguously related to real life, and which may in part represent something that is actually happening.

This gives us a licence to be as scared as Alexander when he seems to hear God speaking from behind a door, and to be even more scared when Ismael channels Alexander’s murderous thoughts into reality. We see another nightmare vision – the bedridden aunt, consumed by flames, staggering from her room – but we know it’s happening in real life as well. Like Isak’s rescue mission, this does help to resolve the plot, enabling Emilie and the children to return to the Ekdahl household. But it also brings elements of the Vergerus and Jacobi households into this formerly warm, safe space. The bishop not only appears to Alexander as an intangible vision, he appears behind Alexander, before he sees him, and so clearly has an independent existence of his own. In a horrible reversal of the ‘Don’t touch them!’ moment during the rescue (where the illusion protected the children and made them untouchable), Edvard now exercises his authority over his stepson by hitting him twice from behind, causing him to fall and drop the biscuits: he’s not just independent of Alexander, he’s also tangible, and can cause real physical harm.

The ghost of Alexander’s father doesn’t appear at the end; Alexander has lost him. But the stepfather says, ‘You will never escape me.’ As Alexander lies in his grandmother’s lap, listening to the line from Strindberg’s play (or the prologue to that play?), we understand that the imaginative power this quotation refers to is a double-edged sword. As at the beginning of the film, we have the grandmother reassuring Alexander that he’s only been dreaming, providing a warm, soft cradle in which he can take refuge; but we also have a sense that those imaginative forces have acquired a new power, not only to terrify but also to hurt, and that nothing can fully protect Alexander from the damage that has been and will be done to him.

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Re: Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)

#300 Post by ando » Thu May 25, 2017 6:31 pm

Good points, Sloper; my response to a few:
Sloper wrote:With reference to ando’s question above, this taps into one of Bergman’s main preoccupations, namely the blurred line between fantasy and reality.
Well, Bergman had stated often that he felt the language of dreams and films to be synonymous. Certainly, if you look at his films from Smiles of a Summer Night onward people and events take on a quality of lore or tales - even tales within tales - in all his narratives. The realistic, as you point out, is not something Bergman is interested in, unless some apect of a character's reality contributes to the tone of the story (in Fanny, the winded, aging uncle having to bow out of the Christmas dancing; the voluptuous but dim housemaid beset with a limp; the avuncular uncle who suddenly turns off the charm when he realizes he's an object of ridicule; Bergman's obsession with historical detail in household furnishings, ritual, etc.). The portraits of character are brutally realistic so that events can be as fantastic as Bergman cares to paint them. The plausible is thereby irrelevant. It's actually an effective and oft used literary approach. It's similar to what I heard Toni Morrison say about her novels; e.g., the particular details of place, time and character have to be painstakingly accurate since so many of her narratives deal with the fantastic (and/or supernatural).
We, as the audience, need to accept this ridiculous plot twist whereby the children are saved, and we need to understand that it’s not just a cop-out, not just a way of bringing about a happy ending. Isak’s beautiful but seemingly interminable reading from his book – which seems to transition from a reading into a meandering dreamlike fantasy that moves away from what is written on the page, as Isak looks up from it and continues the story – helps to emphasise this movement into a state of mind between sleep and waking, where we experience incomprehensible dreams that seem to be ambiguously related to real life, and which may in part represent something that is actually happening.
I think you're on to something here though I think Bergman is up to something rather subtle. Through Alexander he suggests the interpretation of events is different for each character within the narrative. In other words there is no single, master narrative here but a mulifarious impression of events through a single character. Alexander's sensitivity leaves him open to impressions that aren't necessarily his own and makes him something of a conduit for a multitude of voices and the audience. How else would he be privy to events which do not involve him directly? Because Alexander is aware, for instance, of the deception that Isak is up to with his stepfather we (the audience) are made aware of it. So, in part, I think the narrative adopts an ambiguity similar to dreams though the fact of whether or not events are real seems secondary to the subject dreaming it - in this case, Alexander. Bergman never goes as far afield as, say, Maya Deren or even Buñuel but he certainly does employ elements of the fantastic for very concrete purposes.

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