What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that while this subtitled Swedish film is about two children, ages 10 and 8, 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.
- Families can talk about how Alexander's imagination and day dreams help him cope with his real life. How does the movie distinguish between the real and the fantasy? Are there ever occasions in which you or someone you know uses a fantasy life in this way?
- Talk about how kids are portrayed in this film. Are there any role models in this movie? How are the kids in this movie portrayed differently than in some more current movies?
- Bergman shows two distinct types of family life. How do the places in which they live reflect the people who live there? Whose job is it to choose the design and arrangement of the sets in movies? What do these designers have to keep in mind when doing their work?
- What makes this movie so special? Why has it stood the test of time? Teens: Do you find it difficult to watch movies with subtitles? Why or why not?