Saturday, 1 January 2011

Persona [1966]

Often considered amongst Swedish master Ingmar Bergman’s greatest films, alongside a plethora of others, not least of all being The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries and Fanny and Alexander, Persona is a difficult film to categorize, explore or analyze. The film has at its centre a famous actress who has undergone an emotional breakdown and as an aftermath has stopped speaking. Realising that being put up at the hospital will not help, the matron there sends her to an idyllic sea-side retreat house, in accompaniment of a young and jovial nurse who turns out to be emotionally fragile and in dire need of help herself. Played to perfection by Bergman regular Liv Ullman as the stony, imperceptible and immaculately beautiful actress and Bibi Anderson as the gullible and emotionally dependent nurse, the film presents a complex, often surreal, and deeply psychological portrait of these two ladies and the myriad interactions between them over the few days that they get to spend together. Understandably a difficult watch, the film is more a treatise of human psychosis, and is filled to its brim with complex allegories, abstract imagery, psychological references, examination of Catholic guilt as well as the various lies that define a public person’s life, etc., thus in a way forming more of a mirror of Bergman’s thought-processes than one that has anything to do with a conventional structures. The film might feel like an enigma to most and would require multiple viewings, but the conversations felt extremely personal and believable, and the static black-and-white photography had a feel of immediacy to it.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Avante-Garde Film
Language: Swedish
Country: Sweden

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