After making it through all five hours of Ingmar Bergman’s self-described masterpiece Fanny and Alexander, I had to ask what Fanny did to deserve top-billing. The movie is clearly about Alexander, a prepubescent boy who suffers the death of his father and the arrival of a stepfather who punishes him out of jealousy. Throughout all this, his younger sister Fanny hardly does or says anything at all. So what’s she doing in the title?
I wish I could take credit for a smart interpretation, but the one I like the best is that of my friend Tim, who said that Fanny (in the title) possibly represents Bergman’s desire to remind us of the other people in the movie. Alexander may be the central protagonist, but life itself has no winners or losers. It’s all about the perspective.