Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Persona is one of the best examples of film as art that I can think of, and it's for this reason that I found it interesting while at the same not becoming terribly connected to it. I can appreciate what a lot of different kinds of movies do, but all of my very favorites attach themselves to me emotionally in some way or at least make me excited to be watching them, and while Persona might be one of the most skillful displays of filmmaking I've ever seen, it never hit me in that personal way, not like Wild Strawberries did. Still, it's probably something every dedicated fan of cinema should see.

It begins with some very jumbled and often disturbing imagery, ranging from a sheep being slaughtered to a nail being pounded into someone's hand, but while this stuff pops up again later, most of the rest of the movie is much more approachable, if not still oddly distant and somewhat confusing. An actress named Elisabet suffers some sort of break and refuses to do anything or even speak, and she gets assigned a nurse named Alma (and played by Bibi Andersson, the same woman who portrayed both Saras in Strawberries), who at first tries to connect with her in the hospital and later stays with her in a house by the sea owned by the doctor.

What follows is a lot of talking by Alma and not-talking by Elisabet, as the former tries to get the latter to come out of her shell and grows increasingly frustrated. It's a pretty amazing performance by Andersson, who has to carry almost the entire film by herself and does it with great intensity. But the story at times seems aimless, or worse doesn't make any sense, like the scenes where Elizabet's husband (played by our old pal Jöns) shows up and can't seem to tell the two apart somehow. Still, despite being a bit put off by some of the film's aspects, it cemented my respect for Bergman as one of the best foreign filmmakers that this whole watch-a-lot-of-classic-movies kick has introduced me to.

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