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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


(aka "Fanny and Alexander" )

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/bergman.htm
Sweden / France / West Germany 1982

 

 

The prosperous Ekhdahl family are in for a tumultuous new year. Everyone gathers at grandmother Helena's (Gunn Walgren) town home for Christmas as usual, but her son Oscar (Allan Edwall, THE SACRIFICE) is overworked running the theatre his father built for his actress mother. Her other son Carl (Börje Ahlstedt, SARABAND) is far behind in the bills and cannot stand his wife's pity. Only youngest son Gustav Adolf (Jarl Kulle, BABETTE'S FEAST) seems to be doing well (his cheery wife thinks his dalliances with the housemaids are perfectly natural). When Oscar suddenly dies, his wife Emlie (Ewa Fröling, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) gets remarried to the stern bishop Vergerus (Jan Malmsjö, SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE), whose surname should be an indicator of sinister intent for Bergman fans (as it was the surname of PASSION OF ANNA's predatory photographer played by Erland Josephson, and Gunnar Björnstrand's skeptic in THE MAGICIAN). Emilie, her son Alexander (Bertil Guve), and daughter Fanny (Pernilla Allwin) live unhappily with the cruel bishop. The children are locked in the attic and guarded over by housekeeper Justina (Harriet Andersson, THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY). Oscar's ghost hovers over the family as its members' lives change over the course of the year. Emilie alerts Helena to her unhappiness, can Helena bring her family back together? Oscar-nominated for best director and best screenplay, and winner for art direction, costume design cinematography, and Best Foreign Film, FANNY AND ALEXANDER marked Bergman's return to Sweden (after the American/German Dino De Laurentis production THE SERPENT'S EGG, British-Norwegian AUTUMN SONATA, and British-German FROM THE LIFE OF THE MARIONETTES). It was also meant to be Bergman's last theatrical film (actually it was a 5-hour TV project, but the 3-hour theatrical version went out first); he continued to work on the stage and on television, but ended up helming one final theatrical feature: SARABANDE (2003). The role of Helena was originally intended for Ingrid Bergman, Emliie for Liv Ullman (Bergman was bitter over her refusal, but scripted her directorial debut FAITHLESS), and Vergerus for Max Von Sydow. Gunnar Björnstrand also stars, and Lena Olin (THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING) and Peter Stormare (DANCER IN THE DARK) have small roles. Whereas a handful of Bergman's previous films focused on psychological horror over the supernatural, FANNY AND ALEXANDER is perhaps most relatable to English viewers as somewhat of a Gothic novel (although Bergman cited Dickens as an influence) with its ghostly visits, rumors of the fates of the Bishop's previous wife and children, imperious housekeeper, and imprisoned children). The film has its share of tragedy and high emotion, but there is also a sense of joy (not simply solace) not often encountered in Bergman films.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 17 December 1982 - Sweden

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 Comparison:

Criterion (2-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. SF International - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Palisades Tartan (Theatrical Cut) - Region 2 - PAL

 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT

2) SF International - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Palisades Tartan (Theatrical Cut) - Region 2 - PAL RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 262
Region 0 - NTSC
SF International - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Palisades Tartan

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 3:09:00  3:08:47.083 3:01:12 (4% PAL speedup)
Video 1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.49 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 45,583,858,520 bytes

Feature Size: 45,477,599,232 bytes

Average Bitrate: 32.12 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.68 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Criterion DVD

Bitrate:

 Blu-ray

Bitrate: Tartan

Audio Swedish (Dolby Digital mono), DUB: English (Dolby Digital mono) LPCM Audio Swedish 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio Swedish 1078 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1078 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Swedish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles English, None English, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish or none English, none
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1

Edition Details:

• Peter Cowie commentary

• Introductions by Bergman to eleven of his films

DVD Release Date:
November 16th, 2004
Keep Case

Chapters: 40

Release Information:
Studio: SF International

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Disc Size: 45,583,858,520 bytes

Feature Size: 45,477,599,232 bytes

Average Bitrate: 32.12 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• None

Blu-ray  Release Date: December 3rd, 2008
Standard
Blu-ray  Case
Chapters: 10

Release Information:
Studio: Palisades Tartan

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• none

DVD Release Date: 16 November 2009
Amaray

Chapters 16

 

 

Comments:

ON THE TARTAN DVD - February 2011: Based on the framing and brightness differences, it appears that Palisades Tartan have utilized Svensk Filmindustri's high definition master of the theatrical cut for their DVD release. A scant 16 chapters is encoded for the three-hour film and there are no extras, but it should provide a satisfying alternative to Artificial Eye's non-anamorphic edition of the five hour TV version (with burnt-in subtitles). Criterion is obviously the route to go if you want both versions and extras. UK fans may find Palisades Tartan's edition cheaper to obtain than importing the Svensk Filmindustri DVD edition (that edition is also without extras).

  - Eric Cotenas

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

NOTE: I can confirm that the Svensk Filmindustri International Blu-ray is region free and will play on Blu-ray machines worldwide. The dual-layered SF Blu-ray also has removable, albeit smallish, white English subtitles. Svensk Filmindustri is the oldest and considered one of the most important Swedish motion-picture studios.

NOTE: This DVD and Blu-ray are representing the theatrical cut of Bergman's film Fanny och Alexander. As we related - there is 5-hour cut of Fanny and Alexander that was eventually shown on television. This 300 minute version can be purchased on Criterion DVD HERE in a boxset that includes the theatrical. It is compared to the AE PAL edition HERE.

The dual-layered SF Film Blu-ray is in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio where the Criterion DVD appears faithful in 1.66:1. We see a shade more information on the Blu-ray - notably on the side edges. While I don't find this consequential to the viewing experience - I would lean, as one of many criteria, towards an accurate 1.66 rendering if I had my choice. The Blu-ray shows evidence of DNR - removing detail and grain. While it can be impossible for me to state any definitive statements regarding the theatrical accuracy of the different color representations on each transfer - I can relate some opinions. Firstly, so as not to be accused of bias - I think both do a wonderful job of presenting the film experience. Where the Criterion leans to a cooler look, the SF Blu-ray is smoother and warmer being occasionally brighter with redder skin tones. While the Criterion skin tones look more pale /cool, and possibly realistic to some, I can't shake the feeling that there has been some subtle color manipulation on the transfer of this DVD. It is selectively done - so I can't make blanket statements about the process but sometimes black levels appear heightened and other times the contrast pumped a bit - making some of the brighter colors on the 1080P - seem faded on the DVD. I'll reiterate that this is only my opinion, but I felt the colors on the 1080P where probably more accurate to the theatrical. 

I've toggled back and forth between the DVD and Blu-ray and noted that either the Criterion has been marginally stretched vertically - with slightly slimmer faces - or SF Blu-ray has been squished horizontally (fatter faces). It's quite minimal but accentuated a bit by our captures sizes below. Like the aspect ratio difference, in normal viewing, I doubt it would hinder anyone from enjoying this masterpiece.

Finally about the image - the Blu-ray gives a higher level of emotional attachment to the film in my opinion. It has far more depth and, is thus, becomes more impacting. It produced the absolute best viewing experience of Fanny and Alexander that I have ever had (a total of four in my lifetime.) Others may disagree and it's hard not to credit the Criterion for another astounding DVD - garnering Top 10 votes in every category in our 2004 Year End Poll. Mathematically the Blu-ray has about 6 times the bitrate - generally meaning better compression, less artifacts and noise, more detail (despite the DNR), smoother, tighter etc.

Luiz says: "Gary, just some comments I would like to share with you about the Fanny BD and the Criterion version. Criterion seems to clip every data beyond 16-235 grey scale range. The problem is that they are probably editing at 0-255, and instead of compressing the data to 16-235 for the final encoding they are clipping it or actually delivering the whole 0-255 range but most monitors/TVs can't present this entire range. Even when your TV can if it is calibrated it is adjusted to clip everything beyond 16-235. But since the grabs come from your computer (which certainly is 0-255, unless the software used clips it...) it seem Criterion just clips the scale, leaving the shadows more strong and less detailed as well as the highlights. This is common practice among Criterion releases. Their BD releases seem to be correct, the entire 0-255 is compressed to 16-235. I believe you noticed the BD has a strong DNR applied to it, the Criterion DVD looks more detailed in a number of occasions." (thanks Luiz!)

 

Audio - where both have the original Swedish mono as an option the SF Blu-ray has it as an uncompressed LCPM track or the option of a DTS-HD Master core 1.0. This was immensely noticeable in the music which sounded just incredible as if the instruments were right in the room with me. Dialogue too was, at times, piercing. Criterion offer and English language DUB that I have never tested. Both offer optional English subtitles with the tacking on Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish as further choices. Singing does not appear to have been translated.              

 

Supplements go firmly in Criterion's favor with the excellent Cowie commentary and a second, single-layered, disc which includes about 45 minutes of Bergman introductions of 11 of his films - quite interesting and very much worth seeing. The SF Blu-ray has nothing in the way of extras.

First and foremost its the film that is the most important attribute here. We can quibble about the transfer but it remains far more essential to see Fanny and Alexander than to worry about which is the best transfer. Funny, I can't imagine anyone who might be interested in the Blu-ray not already owning this on DVD (be it Criterion or not.) This is Bergman's second film to reach 1080P for home viewing (the other being The Seventh Seal) - for what it's worth I, personally, value this even more. It's so important to have options in life and I doubt anyone will be disappointed in their viewing of Fanny and Alexander through high-definition. For Bergman's loyal and extensive following that amounts to an encouraging recommendation from this reviewer.     

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus/ Extras


Disc 2

 

Palisades Tartan (Theatrical Cut) - Region 2 - PAL

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) SF International - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Palisades Tartan (Theatrical Cut) - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) SF International - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Palisades Tartan (Theatrical Cut) - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) SF International - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Palisades Tartan (Theatrical Cut) - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) SF International - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Palisades Tartan (Theatrical Cut) - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) SF International - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Palisades Tartan (Theatrical Cut) - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) SF International - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Palisades Tartan (Theatrical Cut) - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) SF International - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Palisades Tartan (Theatrical Cut) - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM

 


Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. SF International - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. SF International - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. SF International - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. SF International - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. SF International - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 262
Region 0 - NTSC
SF International - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Palisades Tartan

Region 2 - PAL




 

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Gary Tooze

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