Fanny And Alexander

This is a great scene from Ingmar Bergman's 1982 film Fanny And Alexander, set in Uppsala around 1907. A lot has happened since then, or, as they say here in Japan, warm water under a red bridge.

My memories of Jul (Yule, Christmas, クリスマス) hardly even touch on a tangent on some of the scenes that Bergman explore here. He was indeed born in a different era, in a different state of mind, that some would call "upper class" whatever that may mean.

His anger and angst, to use the German word, also may not be so well understood.

Bergman is very popular in Japan - and even in America, this film got 4 Oscars. Well done.

Do rent the full version, do enjoy it in its entire fullness, all of Bergman's greatness, with moments of brilliance and truth, like this scene when Isak tells the children an ancient story, of how a young man sets out on a journey. But why?

He has also forgotten his homeland, and the final goal,
Suddenly one evening he is standing in a forest
All is quiet; perhaps the sunset wind is heard in the tall trees
He stands in astonishment...
...but he is also anxious and suspicious
He is alone... and he hears nothing...
And he discovers that his hearing is poor...
...because his ears are blocked up
He sees nothing, because his eyes are
Dazzled by the merciless glare of the daylight

His throat is parched and his cracked lips are pressed around curses

Thus he does not hear the ripple of flowing, streaming water
He does not see the shining stream in the dusk

He stands deaf and blinded just next to the spring...
...and does not know it is there

Thanks Jean at TTT for reminding me of this.


Hi Martin,

Thanks v. much for this post and gorgeous clip that captures a central theme of Bergman's film -- finding one's true self -- always the real goal in "journey" stories (the ancient story within this story). Somehow, in previous viewings, I missed the centrality of this part.

I think I was too caught up in the richness of ofther aspects of the film--one fascinating woman who works as a servant who talks about her youth in China--I always wanted to know more about her.

This film reminds me of Kurosawa's "Dreams" (also following a young child's magical perspective of life), Isak Dinesen's "Babette's Feast," Shakespeare's "The Tempest" in that it reflects the depth and richness of what Thomas Merton called the "final integration" of a mature personality.

My video copy is old and not tracking so I stopped my annual winter viewing after an hour but after seeing this clip in a fresh way here, I'm going to get the 4-hour version shown on Swedish television in the 80's. I watch Kurosawa's "Dreams" every spring -- during peach blossom season.

Thanks again for making me see a favorite film in a new and more meaningful way! Jean
Hi Again,

I just found a saying by Lao Tsu with the same message of this story:

Stop leaving and you will arrive.
Stop searching and you will see.
Stop running away and you will be found.

The paradox of the story is that one has to leave, search, journey to encounter the thirst, confusion, challenging experiences that burn away whatever it is inside of one's vision that obscures the life-giving streams and mountains inside one's self all the time :)

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