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Persona (1966)

Original Title : Persona
Director : Ingmar Bergman
Writer : Ingmar Bergman
Genre : Drama
Country : Sweden
Language : Swedish
Producer : Ingmar Bergman
Music : Lars Johan Werle
Photography : Sven Nykvist
Distributor : Accent Film Entertainment
IMDB ID : 0060827
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poster for "Persona" by Ingmar Bergman (1966)
Persona (1966) - Ingmar Bergman
 

Starring

Bibi Andersson Alma, The Nurse
Liv Ullmann Elisabeth Vogler, The Actress
Margaretha Krook The Doctor
Gunnar Björnstrand Mr. Vogler
Jörgen Lindström The Boy, Elisabeth's Son (uncredited
 

Plot

A young nurse, Alma, is put in charge of Elisabeth Vogler: an actress who is seemingly healthy in all respects, but will not talk. As they spend time together, Alma speaks to Elisabeth constantly, never receiving any answer. Alma eventually confesses her secrets to a seemingly sympathetic Elisabeth and finds that her own personality is being submerged into Elisabeth's persona.
 

Comments

Who Am I?, 22 February 2005 Author: Ivanhoe Vargas (nycritic) from Jersey City, NJ When I viewed PERSONA recently, I didn't know what exactly to make of it: what was it telling me, what was its intentions, its ultimate meaning. Not being a conventional director by far, I felt that Bergman had deliberately left all this 81 minute of storytelling to me to figure out... and I may have been right, but I either wasn't getting it or this was too much of an abstract film to merit any analysis, so my review was at face value and even ended with the sentence "this is exactly how Bergman wants it." Seeing it later more emerges, and the deeper story takes place even if it still seems linear: Elisabeth Vogler (Liv Ullmann) loses her speech midway through Electra and will not speak again (except once throughout the entire film, and in an imagined sequence). There is no apparent reason as to why she has lost her speech, and the only hint is the horror she witnesses on the television as war, genocide, and destruction rage on. Other than that it is never alluded to, her muteness.Into the picture comes Alma (Bibi Andersson), the nurse who is put to her care by the suggestion of a psychiatrist. Both retreat to an isolated home. Seeing that Elisabeth will not talk, Alma fills space and time with her own erratic ramblings that take shape and form, a need to fill a void, and that void is of course, Elisabeth, who listens and listens and listens impassively yet with interest. Alma's stories are a form of confession: if Elisabeth is the mute who bears the scars of the world, Alma is the conveyor who purges inner traumas and erotic experiences, hurtful on a lesser scale. The fact she has been laid so naked to the woman she is trying to rehabilitate and the fact she learns this very woman considers her an interesting subject suddenly shocks her: from being caring, she turns vindictive. A shard of glass left deliberately to have Elisabeth step over is the catalyst: the images break, abstract images take place again, and the story re-starts. But one wonders, what if Elisabeth stepped over the glass with equal deliberateness? After all, she does need Alma. And she is an actress foremost. This moment is the one that amps up the tension between the women and even then they become closer, so close Elisabeth's husband thinks Alma is her as Elisabeth quietly allows this to happen. Is Elisabeth re-living some form of event through Alma? Is Alma the only way another secret involving Elisabeth's child can come through? Whatever the reason, Alma is clearly a conduit for Elisabeth to come forth and the merging of their similar faces is the culmination of this haunting psycho-drama that goes beyond its cinematic boundaries. No clear resolutions except the almost casual references that explain both women's return to their own sense of normalcy, but this somehow inconclusive ending is what gives it the weight of a great story and excellent Bergman. Reality here is what is so common to us: who we see ourselves as, how others see us, how self-identification becomes self-preservation through the experiences of others, good or bad or a combination of both. Pain and ecstasy are a part of our make-up, and PERSONA is the best example of the merging of the two.
 
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