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November 18, 1983 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 1983-11-18
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Fanny and Alexander
Starring Pernilla Allwin and
Bertil Guve
Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Now playing at the Campus Theater
By Dan Desmond
T HANK HEAVEN for Ingmar Berg-
man, who returns to the screen
every once in a while to illustrate what
excellent filmmaking looks like. Fanny
and Alexander is vivid proof that
Bergman has not lost his acute ability
to create evocative cinema. In fact, he
has honed that talent.
It is time now to abandon furry little
forest dwellers, high school seniors in
heat, and rampant ruffians with names
like "Yori," in favor of going to movies
that make you think. Bergman elegan-
tly re-introduces human beings to the
screen. And in Fanny and Alexander
Bergman offers us an experience that is
as visual as it is intellectual.
Bergman places us in the company of
the Ekdahl family. They are wealthy
and have servants to do just about
everything (including romping in bed
with them). Like every family, they
have good times and bad. During their
Christmas celebration you can almost
feel that holiday atmosphere as if you,
yourself, are involved.

However, times are not always so
wonderful. Among the family's middle-
aged sons, Carl has fallen into debt and
feels humiliated, Gustav is an over-
sexed philanderer, and Oscar, well,
Oscar dies. An old friend of the family,
Isak, is a cynical but sensitive com-
panion to Mama, who worries terribly
about all of them.
Oscar is Fanny and Alexander's
father and his death has a marked ef-
fect on everyone. Implicit in many
Bergman films is a constant fear of
death. The grey reality of losing his
father stares Alexander square in the
face, and this young boy must contend
with the trauma. Alexander initially
blames his father for dying.
Alexander's mother, Emilie,
remarries to a painfully puritanical
Bishop who succeeds in ruining her life.
He takes the children under his care but
is more a Dutch uncle than a step-
father. He cruelly punishes Alexander,
who defies the Bishop's austere ways.
Alexander now must grapple with the
restricting nature of a religious up-
The chaste you-must-fear-me-to-love-
me atmosphere the Bishop imposes on
Alexander suppresses the boy. By way
of an allegorical story about the
Bishop's natural children drowning,
Alexander conveys that he is suffocated
by this miasma of religious discipline.
Sorting out the possible reasons his
father had died, Alexander tries not to
blame his father and wonders if God is
responsible. Alexander declares that if
such a thing were true then "God is a
The lesson Alexander learns is that
the dead may be tangibly gone but they
are still close to us. He derives his gen-
tleness and sensitivity from his father
- he is still a part of Alexander. A
slightly unpleasant note is that the

Oh my
Lords of the New Church
Prism Productions
St. Andrew's Hall
803 Congress, Detroit
Saturday, November 19, 11 p.m.
By Bob King
ISNOTHING sacred? Even L.A. punk-
whose seeming immutibility stemmed
from the belief that what doesn't live
doesn't evolve - is no longer what it was in
'81. At the front of this new movement are
the Lords of the New Church, the Dolls-like
quartet from Los Angeles, who for our
culture, with those neat clothes and wild
pleasure will be on stage at St. Andrew's
Hall tomorrow night.
Following on the heels of X and the
Cramps, the Lords will face an audience
spoiled by the West Coast's best. Without
the likes of Fear or Black Flag in recent
memory, however, Detroit may also be
failing to notice the relatively mild man-
ners and polished edges of these bands.
Vince Bannon has been playing some
tricks lately by pulling in musicians-not
just punks-to his counter-cultural nir-
vana. From the outside, it looks like for-
The Lords are certainly not what would
have been called "hardcore" last year (a
term that should start thinking seriously
about a headstone). Bator may be a for-
mer Dead Boy, and Guitarist Brian James
an ex-Damned, but the Lords are what
they are, now.
With hardcore following the likes of
Generalissimo Franco, what's emerging
from L.A? Apparently groups like X, and
like the Lords, groups who have slowed

Alexander and Fanny: Childhood curiosity

despotic Bishop ominously returns af-
ter his death and- warns Alexander,
"you can't escape me." So, Alexander
has that to hover over his head through
So, the dead can still exist inside us,
but what is important to the living? Un-
cle Gustav offers an answer. He en-
courages us to find joy in the little
world, that is, the family and friends
that give subtle pleasures like gentle
smiles. Gustav says, "ignore the big
things" (like religion) and. cultivate
and be content with your own little
Bergman also asserts that
imagination is a gift that should not be
silenced. Under the heavy hand of the
Bishop, Alexander is forced to lock his
healthy imagination in the closet and
become a contrite and moral
youngster. How boring. Eventually,
Alexander is freed from this stifling en-
vironment and his grandmother offers
a bit of optimism as she tells him,
"imagination spins out and weaves new

patterns." Such imagination is
necessary to enrich the touching little
world Gustav speaks of, and to avoid
the emptiness of the Bishop's world,
which is about as warm as a morning
A zeal for affinity with the people
closest to them is what is central to the
Ekdahl family in Fanny and Alexander.
Even after one has passed on this con-
nection is the most pervasive experien-
ce in life. Icould not begin to do justice
to the subtitles and details that accen-
tuate the elements of this film outlined
here. Bergman's intricate storytelling
and masterful care in developing Fan-
ny and Alexander make it a must-see.
With the simplest techniques Bergman
creates a beauty and poignancy on the
screen. His close-ups, for instance, are
extremely telling. The camera's
perusal of a character's face can offer
the deepest meaning or feeling.
Bergman stands out as one of the elite
among today's directors.
I can caution the movie-goer about
only two things. First, this is a lengthly
film. But if you do not mind slightly
more than three hours of good
Bergman, then you'll be OK. And if you
don't mind reading subtitles for that
length of time, everything will be fine.
The story is so engaging oftentimes you
aren't even aware you are reading
Despite these two drawbacks (and
they are trivial enough to overlook)
Fanny and Alexander is a splendid and
alluring film. Ingmar Bergman often
ends his stories with a hopeful touch
and this film is no exception. And there
you have another refreshing ingredient
that makes this movie a wonderful step
back into intelligent movies. There is
an awful rumor that this will be
Bergman's last film. Hopefully, this
retirement will not be permanent.
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The Lords: Not so holy
down their style and who have stopped
despising the world in general in order to
focus in on its truly pathetic aspects. Fear
collectively might want to spit on them,
but they've always been a minority. Read
Lords of the New Church have even
waxed intellectuals at times. A song like
"Tales of Two Cities" from their new LP,
which includes references to both Dickens
and the bible, demonstrates a clear
recognition of the continuum of Western
culture (is that not intense?). And a line
like you fill me with inertia, from "Bad
Thing," which was lifted right from the
Peter Cook-Dudley Moore film, Bedazzled,
is almost shocking. As punk enters our
culture, with those neat cloths and wild
songs, our culture is entering punk-"The
Decline of Western Civilization" is history.

What will the Lords be playing
tomorrow? "Live for Today" is one song
which has taken airplay in a big way,
though having been produced by Todd
Rundgren, that was almost inevitable. If
you've heard what resembles a Byrd's
tune covered by the Ramones, you've
heard "Live for Today."
The range of the Lords is dynamic. Like
X, who can play "We're Desperate" and
"Please Come Back to Me" back to back,
The Lords of the New Church flow effor-
tlessly from harsh, post-hardcore rock to
lyric new-wave tunes like "Dance with
Me." The Lords, in short, think. Ergo,
they change. Does this exclude perfec-
Hard-rock is how they describe them-
selves now, and I can't argue with this ap-
pelation. I can't let it go without ex-

not seem
hardcore, t
of both X a
no outlet fo
they becar
tal, and th
are four, bi
As a war
of slammii
be changir
Go's crows
Punk is
disciples h
social light
balcony thi
floor to the

his nose
Cyrano de Bergerac
Professional Theater Program
Power Center
Wednesday, November 23-Sunday,
November 27, 8 p.m.
By Joseph Kraus
and Michael Fisch
QUESTION: What do you say to the
greatest swordsman, gambler and
romantic of 17th century France?
Cyrano De Bergerac, that famed
gallant warrior with the "magnificent"
nose will be coming to Ann Arbor star-
ting November 23. Never mind that he
has been dead for almost 300 years, he
is being ably represented by the
University's own Erik Fredricksen.

Fredricksen stars in the University John Guilgud, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., creation,
Player's presentation of Edmond Christopher Plummer, and Errol a rather
Rostand's Cyrano De Bergerac. Direc- Flynn. school at
ted by Walter Eysselinck, chairman of Although there are parallels between numerous
the Department of Theater and Drama, the real Cyrano and Rostand's semi- ce in the c
the show promises an evening of cluded
comedy, romance and adventure. duelling.
Fredricksen is a member of the and a phi
University's performance faculty and romantic,
current president of the Society of depicted
American Fight Directors. produced
He has appeared most recently in Ann goers for
Arbor as Brick in the Michigan Ensem- In Rosi
ble Theater's production of Cat on a Hot love with
Tin Roof and in the one-man show The maiden. F
Diary of a Madman. He spent this nose as ug
summer with the Colorado him. Wh(
Shakespeare Festival as Richard III. officer in
In doing this project Fredricksen has a mutual
reunited himself with his friend and siderable
mentor Patrick Crean. The world- his friend
renowned fencing master/fight direc- Roxann
tor has been teaching the male fighters Fleming,
of the cast to fence as smoothly and ef- Hopper, v
fortlessly as Cyrano himself once did. student a
He is also the play's fight in The Ri
choreographer. For this reason one It appe
should expect to see both wild and won- there is a
derous fight scenes. a healthy
Patrick Crean is certainly qualified help 'to
to be a teacher. His auspicious acting Tickets a
career included over 300 plays and 50 ticket off
films. Some of his students include Sir Duelling: On guard! For furthe

4 Weekend/November 18, 1983


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