Monday, October 24, 2005

The Summit of the Depths

I'd read multiple times that Bergman outdid himself with Fanny and Alexander; critics often refer to it as Bergman's crowning achievement, as his most devestatingly honest work. Before seeing this five-hour masterpiece I must admit to having felt some heavy skepticism about such claims. I mean, c'mon, could he really top Scenes from a Marriage? Or Persona? Or The Seventh Seal?

The answer is yes. Bergman's sharp genius for plumbing the monstrous depths of ordinary souls has never been so keen. You want twisted, sick, despicable and hateful action? You get it. You want violence, hate, hypocrisy, and malignant bile-barfing ghosts? Yep, in spades. And yet Fanny and Alexander is mostly about hope, and about the liberating power of art and imagination, and about beauty and how the power to create and appreciate beauty is tied to suffering--this theme hovers above all else. The sets, the cast, the cinematography--exquisite. Bertil Guve as Alexander will break your heart, and he's only one of several very fine actors.

See it now.