Directed by Ingmar bergman
Starring: Liv Ullman, bibi Andersson, Gunnar bjornstrand
MGM DVD Release
Persona is a mind blowing film. It is not easily accessible for those that are not familiar with the work of bergman, but after watching a few of his films, and understanding his style, this film will come to the viewer at full force, and will display why bergman is one of the greatest auteurs of all film history.
The print on this dvd is pristine. There arent any cracks in the film, and it is presented in its original aspect ratio, and is in crystal clear black and white.
Persona involves a theatre actress who stops talking during a performance of the Greek Tragedy, Electra. She is put in the hospital, and a nurse named Alma is chosen to care for her. Elisabet, the woman who doesnt speak, and Alma go off to a cottage where they spend every moment together, trying to cure Elisabet of her supposed sickness. Alma reveals her deepest secrets to Elisabet and what follows is open to interpretation, with each of the characters possibly blending into one. It is fascinating stuff. Throughout the film, bergman reminds the viewer that it is only a movie that we are watching, leading to one of the theories of the movie being about nothing. One must see it to understand it. The film is one of bergman's best, but one should start off with the Seventh Seal or Wild Strawberries before viewing this one.
There are a few dvd extras on the disc, including an audio commentary, an interview with Liv Ullman, an interview with bibi Andersson, and a 27 minute documentary about the film. The commentary is decent, and it gives many perspectives on interpreting the film that would have gone unnoticed throughout a first viewing. The commentator knows what he is talking about, and he seems to have more fun than most commentators do on the dvd's.
The supplementary interviews are pointless. Liv Ullman rambles on about her relationship with bergman, giving no new perspective on the film, while bibi andersson talks about her being the mediator for both bergman and Ullman. The documentary is basically a rehashing of what the viewer learned in the commentary, with a few little sections of an interview with Ingmar bergman. One must expect the extras to be lacking, because it is not a Criterion release.
Despite the poor supplementary material, I would definitely encourage anyone to rent this film, and then if they are intrigued by the quality of film-making, go out and buy it. It is a wonderful joy to watch, and one to leave you thinking.