Ingmar Bergman’s Merry Christmas

Young Alexander with his toy theater

Fanny and Alexander by Ingmar Bergman, 1982. Available for streaming on Hulu+

Here’s my suggestion for a great Christmas movie: Fannie and Alexander, directed by Ingmar Bergman. This movie is over three hours long (that’s the theatrical cut, it was also a television miniseries) so I’ve never been able to show it in a class. It is listed on Hulu as a “Family Drama,” but that is ambiguous — this is a movie about drama in families, but it is not a movie for children. In fact the movie probably has more impact for middle-aged audiences.
Here are some things to watch for: Be prepared for a slow pace — just go with it and the payoffs in the Third Act will be worth it. Watch the way Bergman plays with his World; he really toys with your brain in a way that you don’t even know what he’s doing to you. An apparent late introduction of the Antagonist that still works (how does he do it?) Polarities pushed to incredible extremes. One of the most evil villains you will ever see, but without a shred of stereotype or cliché in the character. And the greatest Christmas celebration ever placed on celluloid — it will redefine the holiday for you.

Here’s a hint: The movie makes more sense if you are at least a little familiar with Hamlet.


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