A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Family, as well as life itself, is mysterious, complicated, and filled with both joy and sorrow; accepting that will help even the young make their way in the world. Trust is fragile and easily abused.
Positive Role Models
A multi-faceted look at the many roles adults play in their children's lives from the compassionate, loving, and understanding to the strict, unmercifully rigid, and terrifying. A broad picture of childhood resilience as well as vulnerability.
Violence & Scariness
Numerous frightening and intense scenes. A young boy is severely beaten by his step-father; while the actual blows from the cane are not shown, the bloody aftermath on the child's bare bottom is seen. When Fanny's and Alexander's father dies, the children witness their mother's uncontrollable grief in a lengthy sequence. In dark, suspense-filled fantasy scenes puppets come to life, scary masks and faces fill the screen, the ghosts of dead loved ones appear, and a strange household becomes a mysterious maze. A diseased woman (shown in closeup) catches fire, runs through a house and sets it and another occupant ablaze.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There are several scenes with explicit sexual activity between adults with partial nudity (fondling of bare breasts, undressing). A constantly lecherous man playfully makes love to his wife, and seduces a young servant, carrying on an open affair with her with his wife's knowledge; all live in the same household. Some of the classical artwork displayed in the family home includes nudity. Alexander is seen from behind as he urinates.
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In two scenes the enraged 10-year-old Alexander utters strings of profanities in Swedish (subtitled in English), including: "s--t," "c--k," "f--k," "p---y," "c--t," "crap," "butt," "piss." Other words heard occasionally: "fart," "damn," "hell," "bastard." A raucous family game shows an inebriated uncle playing chase with the assembled children and lighting his own farts. There is one outpouring of anti-Semitic rhetoric from the movie's darkest villain.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Alcoholic beverages, including wine, cognac, and beer are consumed by adults often at family celebrations, dinners, social get-togethers, and in moments of stress. Inebriated uncles provide comic relief in a number of scenes, including one in which a servant is seduced. Members of the family smoke pipes and cigars.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Fanny and Alexander is subtitled Swedish film is about two children, ages 10 and 8, but its themes and events are weighty and sophisticated, appropriate only for adults and mature teens. The movie contains several disturbing, intense sequences in which the young brother and sister are front and center in the aftermath of their father's death, or being treated cruelly by a villainous step-father. Both children are threatened and Alexander is emotionally tormented by the man, then beaten with a cane until his backside is bloody. In addition, there are fantasy sequences in which one or both children see ghosts, imagine the deaths of their step-father's first wife and his two daughters, and get lost in an exotic, maze-like household in which puppets and other inanimate objects come to life. During fits of anger, Alexander uses harsh profanity, including "f--k," "c--k," "piss," and more. Milder swearing occurs intermittently, and there are some anti-Semitic slurs. Characters drink alcohol frequently, become drunk, and smoke cigars and pipes. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The final work from the iconic Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman is a heart-wrenching, in-depth portrait of childhood. Exploring the inner life and struggles of one 10-year-old boy and, peripherally, his 8-year-old sister, this multiple award-winning film pays homage to complex relationships and characters as flawed or bizarre as they are grand. His subject is nothing less than the connections, loyalties, and betrayals of Family (with a capital "F") and the essence of humanity that a family represents.
Outstanding performances, stunning visuals, and a dark, but universal story of loss and love combine to make Fanny and Alexander, made in 1982, a timeless experience. It is highly recommended, however, because of the adult nature of the thematic material and some frightening and intense scenes, it's for grownups and very mature teens.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.