This is a comparison between the Theatrical Version and the TV Version. Both can be found on the US Blu-ray released by Criterion.
Sweden, 1907: Family Ekdahl is a long-established and wealthy family with a theater-background. During christmas dinners there usually is a cheerful atmosphere. This time, however, the family is saddened by the tragic death of Oscar Ekdahl who is also the director of the theater. Emilie marries the local bishop who brings a cold mood into the loving family. Especially Alexander suffers from the bishop’s harshness.
Fanny and Alexander was supposed to be Ingmar Bergmann’s last film and was also his first movie in Sweden from where he emmigrated in 1976. The movie extensively talks about the Ekdahls‘ family life and the audience both gets to see joyful and tragic moments. The characters get a lot of screentime and the dialogs are powerful and thrilling – especially once the character of the bishop is introduced. Over the course of the movie we thus get closely in touch with family Ekdahl and saying goodbye to the characters after five hours is difficult.
Right from the start, Fanny and Alexander was meant tob e a four-part TV miniseries, which is also the version Bergmann preferred. Based on this series, he cut together a 190 minutes long theatrical version that misses out on roughly two hours of material. Ironically, the theatrical version was releaed prior tot he TV series. On the one hand, there are a lot of rather irrelevant cuts that take out a few seconds of footage. On the other hand, though, several elements of the plot were entirely taken out for theaters.
Even though some of these cuts are not that noticeable, there are still quite a few significant moments missing. Thus, we recommend the TV version. Since it is split up into four parts, it is no problem to watch it step by step instead of one uniterrupted run.
The report follows the TV Version and thus is split into four parts.
Theatrical Version: 189:12 min.
Part 1: 96:00 min.
Part 2: 78:08 min.
Part 3: 60:00 min.
Part 4: 86:51 Min.
The TV Version shows a rapid. Then we see title and prolog.
TV Version: 34 sec.
Alexander is sitting on an archaic toilet and says that he is the king of 17 countries. He sees a mouse trap with a mouse in it. He pickst he trap up and releases the animal.
TV Version: 45 sec.
Alexander is shown longer when he looks at the coach.
TV Version: 1 sec.
The coach is shown a little longer.
TV Version: 2 sec.
Alexander is lying under the table a little longer. Then we see the figurine a little earlier.
TV Version: 11 sec.
The figurines are shown longer. The following shot of the room begins earlier.
TV Version: 6 sec.
After the room was shown, we see a cut to the chandelier.
TV Version: 9 sec.
Alexander looks to the side and sees Death dragging a scythe across the floor. Cut to the music box, the chandelier and the bust.
The housemaid is shown earlier puring coal in the oven.
TV Version: 48 sec.
Alexander is shown longer under the table.
TV Version: 2 sec.
The theatrical version shows three shots of the stream.
The TV version fades from Alexander to the stream. Then we see additional shots. Also, there is a title card saying "First Act" and "The Ekdahl Family celebrates Christmas".
Theatrical Version: 13 sec.
TV Version: 22 sec.
The theatrical version now shows the title card.
No difference in time.
The TV Version now shows the theater visit, that the Theatrical Version had already shown at [00:08:45].
The camera pans from the chandelier to the audience. They hand around a bag of sweets. The audience becomes impatient because it takes so long.
TV Version: 1:50 min.
The play depicts a scene of the Three Wise Men saying that a bright star will lead them to Bethlehem.
TV Version: 15 sec.
The scene where Isak goes to the house is shown later in the Theatrical Version (at [00:17:02]).
The TV Version shows the arrangements at [00:05:59]
Helena is shown earlier when she gets ready in front of the mirror.
TV Version: 12 sec.
The Theatrical Version shows Theater director Oscar's speech at [00:14:17].