So Glad I noticed that what Netflix lists as the “TV version” is the actual original 5 hour version, wonderfully restored for the Criterion collection. I removed the “Theatrical Version” from my queue and got this masterpiece instead. I really think the film should be simply called “Alexander”. After all Fanny, his little sister does almost nothing and we experience the story mostly through Alexander. The movie is probably one of Bergman’s most lavish productions, telling the story of the two kids in 5 acts, through fantastic set pieces. It starts off in the colorful, joyful and happy Ekdahl house and theatre. We then move to the bishop’s place who marries their mother (why a seemingly smart and pretty lady like Emilie marries that evil douche is beyond me). The bishop’s home is grey, drab and filled with grey and drab residents and servants. Another set piece is the house of the Jacobis, where F and A spend a short period of time. The Jacobis are illusionists and circus people. Their home feels cramped with life size dolls and trinkets. It also felt more like a maze than a small home.
The characters are all very unique and interesting. the ones I enjoyed the most were Alexander and his animated, womanizing, temperamental uncle, Gustav Adolf, who has a very long and thoughtful speach in there towards the end. We do get some of Bergman’s fantasy trips here, but we also get a lot of fun, love and long dissertations on life and God.