The similarity of Alexander (Bertil Guve) to the young Bergman, accentuaded by the actor’s almost uncanny physical resemblance to the director as a child, is beyond doubt. His pastimes (the puppet theatre and the magic lantern) are identical with those of Bergman himself.
Uncle Carl (Börje Ahlstedt): ’How is it one becomes second-rate, can you answer me that? How does the dust fall? When has one lost? First, I’m a prince, the heir to the kingdom. Suddenly, before I know it, I’m deposed. Death taps me on the shoulder. The room is cold and we can’t pay for the wood. I’m ugly and unkind. I’m unkindest to the one person who cares for me. You can never forgive me. I’m a shitter and a rotter.’
Bergman, Allan Edwall (Oscar Ekdahl), Ewa Fröling (Emelie Ekdahl), Sven Nykvist, and Pernilla Allwin (Fanny Ekdahl). Many in the film crew, including Bergman and Nykvist, got knocked out by an influenza outbreak.
A relaxed Erland Josephson (Isak Jacobi) and Bergman on the set of Fanny and Alexander. Josephson is the actor who can boast the longest-running collaboration with Bergman, starting with The Merchant of Venice in 1940 and ending in 2004 with Rosmersholm 2004.
Pernilla Allwin (Fanny Ekdahl) and Bertil Guve (Alexander Ekdahl). Guve, a 'complete rascal' according to Bergman, had landed the role as Alexander thanks in no small measure to the fact that during the screen tests, when all the young hopefuls were asked to come up with something terrible that they had done, he had extravagantly claimed that: 'I murdered my grandfather!'
The role of Fanny and Alexander’s nursemaid was Pernilla August’s first role for Bergman. She would later play Bergman’s mother no less than three times – The Best Intentions, Private Confessions, and finally in In the Presence of a Clown.
Gustav Adolf Ekdahl (Jarl Kulle): ’Just imagine, we’re together again. Our little world has closed around us safety, wisdom and order. After a period of fear and confusion. Deaths shadows have been routed, winter has been put to fight and joy has returned to our hearts.’
Ismael Retzinsky (Stina Ekblad): ’Perhaps we are the same person, perhaps we have no limits, perhaps we flow into each other, stream through each other, boundlessly and magnificently. You bear terrible thoughts, it’s almost painful to be near you. At the same time it is enticing. Do you know why?’
Emelie Ekdahl (Ewa Fröling): ’I am tormented by a self-contempt without limit. How could I be so blind? How could I feel compassion for that man? I’m an actress, I should have seen through the pretense. I saw nothing, understood nothing. His conviction was greater than mine and he blinded me.’
Initially, the children regard the housemaid, Justina (Harriet Andersson), as their only ally in the bishop’s house. Bergman would work with Andersson one last time four years later in The Blessed Ones.