25 Christmas Things: Thing 14 – Fanny and Alexander

I’ve already written at length about my new favorite movie of all time (part 1 and part 2), but I’m not done yet! Yes, the first of five “episodes” in this great film focuses almost entirely on the Christmas celebrations of the prosperous Ekdahl family. At nearly an hour and a half in its full version, Ingmar Bergman doesn’t skimp on the details of a early 20th century Sweedish Christmas celebration. The servants are invited to join at the family table and the adults become more childish the more they drink. Sounds modern to me. But more than all of this there’s a special warmth that Bergman captures on film here, a kind of sprawling intimate epic where no one character takes precedence over another. As the night winds down the different pieces of the family split off into their own little dramas. One uncle struggles with being distant from his long suffering wife, another cheats on his wife with a young maid, the kids all get into some late night shenanigans and the matron of the family rests content that she’s created a safe space for her family to be together in and celebrate the season. Of course, later in the film that safety gets shattered, but for that fantastic hour and a half, all is at least close to right in the world.

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