This week’s film selection is Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 film Persona.
Let’s be honest: Bergman is not an easy director. I will be frank and say that apart from The Seventh Seal, I hadn’t really watched any of his other films. Until Persona.
It’s not easy to review such a film. The story, the direction, the cinematography, all of this film’s elements have a story of their own. Even from the opening credits – which are to my opinion homage to Bunuel’s cinematic Surrealism- you are sucked into Bergman’s world…
The story is about a young nurse named Alma (Bibi Andersson) and her patient, a famous actress named Elisabet Vogler (Liv Ullman), who has suffered a mental crisis and refuses to speak. The nurse takes care of the actress and develops a strange relationship with her that is between dream and reality and seems to merge her identity with Elisabeth’s.
It seems though that there is more to than just their identities merging. As I interpreted the film, Alma and Elisabet are two versions of the same character and the film captures this mental straggle. Of course one can interpret the story in many ways. Apart from the complex story and its many meanings, Bergman offers an amazing cinematography that is enhanced by the lack of colors, the intense editing and the overall direction, that seem to match the mental alterations of the two leading ladies.
Persona is considered one of the major works of the 20th century by essayists and critics. In Sight and Sound’s 2012 Greatest Films Poll it comes in at 17th in the critics poll (tied with Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai") and 13th in the directors poll. It won the award for Best Film at the 4th Guldbagge Awards and it was Sweden's entry to the 39th Academy Award category for Best Foreign Film.
My Film Club
Week #8’s film was a bit… heavy, so next week we are going to keep it simple with the film that started a whole genre of horror films…
Next week’s film: Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Ever since I first set foot on a cinema theatre, I knew that something magical was happening there....