Of the handful of "last" films Ingmar Bergman has made in the past 25 years or so, Fanny and Alexander possesses the greatest sense of finality--a lush and grandiloquent farewell that heaps all of the director's favorite obsessions into a quasi-autobiographical fable of incandescent childhood. Hardcore Bergman-philes balked at the master's seeming descent into sentimentality when the movie opened in 1982. How could the Swedish maestro of rigorous asceticism (and misanthropic brooding) think of signing off on a note of nostalgic excess? Had he finally sold out? Or had old age caught up to him?
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