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cinemaspeak59

Persona (1966)

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Persona (1966) is one of the most studied and challenging films in history, inviting analysis from historians, critics and psychiatrists.  I saw Persona several years ago, before revisiting it last week.  I find it not dramatically different from other Ingmar Bergman films.  The internal dialogue, frank discussions on sex, confusion about one’s place in the universe, brutally harsh judgements of the artist – these were present before Persona, and after.  When asked the film, Bergman said he trusted audiences to form their own conclusions.  An answer I found refreshing.  I don’t think Bergman, who also wrote the screenplay, was out to create a puzzle that must be “solved”.  There’s no gamesmanship.

I admire the film’s aesthetic, the impeccable chemistry between Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson, and its humanity. There’s warmth and comfort in the writing. I go back to the bedroom confessional: Liv Ullmann’s Elisabet, the actress who mysteriously stopped speaking, sitting on the bed; Andersson’s Alma, the nurse charged with Elisabet’s care, at the other end of the room.  Alma vividly recalls a sexual experience on the beach, with a couple of voyeurs, salaciously detailing everything, subverting the image Elisabet may have had of her, as a prude.  In that scene, the patient, Elisabet, transforms to therapist, and Alma becomes the patient.  A rich irony.  Persona is a women’s’ picture in the best sense of the term.    

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On 8/29/2019 at 8:09 AM, cinemaspeak59 said:

Persona (1966) is one of the most studied and challenging films in history, inviting analysis from historians, critics and psychiatrists.  I saw Persona several years ago, before revisiting it last week.  I find it not dramatically different from other Ingmar Bergman films.  The internal dialogue, frank discussions on sex, confusion about one’s place in the universe, brutally harsh judgements of the artist – these were present before Persona, and after.  When asked the film, Bergman said he trusted audiences to form their own conclusions.  An answer I found refreshing.  I don’t think Bergman, who also wrote the screenplay, was out to create a puzzle that must be “solved”.  There’s no gamesmanship.

I admire the film’s aesthetic, the impeccable chemistry between Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson, and its humanity. There’s warmth and comfort in the writing. I go back to the bedroom confessional: Liv Ullmann’s Elisabet, the actress who mysteriously stopped speaking, sitting on the bed; Andersson’s Alma, the nurse charged with Elisabet’s care, at the other end of the room.  Alma vividly recalls a sexual experience on the beach, with a couple of voyeurs, salaciously detailing everything, subverting the image Elisabet may have had of her, as a prude.  In that scene, the patient, Elisabet, transforms to therapist, and Alma becomes the patient.  A rich irony.  Persona is a women’s’ picture in the best sense of the term.    

One of the essential works of cinema

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