I have been watching Ingmar Bergman’s masterpiece Fanny & Alexander. Having loved that film for years rewatching it just confirmed the magnificence of the beautiful pictures and the disturbing text.
The first part with Christmas in the home of the Ekdahls is like condenced Christmas – this is how it would be if all the real Christmasses of one’s life were combined and perfected into one. All the happiness, all the sadness, all the food, all the candles, all the love.
The afterplay – which is actually the larger part of the film, with the extreme sadness, bleakness, and danger with the terrible bishop contrasts so violently with this joie de vivre that we feel it as acutely as Alexander does.
Doing some research I realised that the bishop afterall did not die in that fire. He just went underground for some years and then returned triumphantly as a true performer. This is what he did – he went to New York and made a brand new start of it:
The bishop does mention at one point that unlike other people he has only one mask and it has been burned into his flesh. I think he kept than in mind and set out to create some extra masks – just to sweeten life a bit. And after all the bishop had been doing some singing and dancing in his youth. One of my friends proposed that he did some marketing for the protestant church in order to get some more people into the cassock. Like: “It doesn’t have to be boring!”. Well certainly not!
But apart from all that – go watch Fanny & Alexander! And pick the TV-version – not the film. If you would like to watch one of the most terrible scenes in the history of child abuse then go here. In Swedish…