Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks - TV Edition: Non-English Shows

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join in by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and writing a bit about them!

Look, I'm cheating this week. I am fully aware of that. But it's only because I don't watch foreign-language TV shows. #SorryNotSorry

Fanny & Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982) This Swedish miniseries is absolutely gorgeous, a testament to what a master of the visual form can do even on the small screen. The plot certainly doesn't sound like something that is worth watching for five hours: Fanny and Alexander's father dies, and their mother remarries a prominent bishop who naturally doesn't take too kindly to the boy's active imagination. But what Bergman does with that is just jaw-dropping. Some of the most beautiful sequences I've ever seen in movies or on TV are included here. There's a sense of childlike wonder that shows up in small doses that is just unmatched by anything else I've seen. There's a shorter film-length version, too, but the miniseries is absolutely worth your time.

Scenes From a Marriage (Ingmar Bergman, 1973) As epically intimate as Fanny & Alexander is intimately epic, Scenes From a Marriage is another Bergman miniseries that was later edited for a theatrical release. This one is pretty much a duet between the great Liv Ullman and Erland Josephson as Marianne and Johan, a couple that is not-so-slowly disintegrating before our eyes. These are two of the greatest performances in the history of the medium, captured in uncompromising detail. It's a tough sit, but pays off in spades.

French in Action (1987) Now this one actually was a TV series, shown on public television to teach French in an immersive program. There's a running romantic comedy story interspersed throughout the lessons about a French girl, Mireille, and an American student in France, Robert, that has developed a bit of a cult following over the years. I was introduced to this when I was really young through my father, who was a high school French teacher. And then when my own high school French teachers started to show it, I knew the storylines and lessons already, which was kind of fun.


  1. Fanny and Alexander counts, IMO. The film was long enough for me so I haven't seen the mini series. This was a hard week.

  2. I didn't know Fanny & Alexander was a miniseries. That explains the running time.