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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Persona (1966) d. Ingmar Bergman

Bibi Andersson in Persona (1966) d. Ingmar Bergman

Movie Review
Persona (1966)
d. Ingmar Bergman
Criterion Collection #701
Uploaded to Hulu Plus Criterion Collection Channel on August 31st, 2013.
Criterion Collection release March 25th, 2014


   So I guess Criterion Collection is sitting on the rights to all these classic movies, because this is yet another film that was just uploaded into the Criterion Collection (onto?) Channel on Hulu Plus last week, but is not a part of the Criterion Collection or a special Eclipse DVD collection. Criterion's penchant for uploading films that are total classics but not part of the Collection itself is really rattling my original mission statement to watch "all the films in the Criterion Collection."  Persona is not in the Criterion Collection but I would feel foolish not writing about it, because Persona is maybe Bergman's best film... certainly the director's own favorite, and a movie that I found deeply compelling.

  The Ellis History of Film text book has this to say about Bergman, "As a film artist Begman tends to appeal most directly and strongly to those who aren't interested primarily in film art but regard film from the vantage point of the other arts, especially literature and drama."

  The plot of Persona is sparse: Liv Ullmann is a famous Actress who is struck dumb during a performance, and refuses to speak thereafter.  Bibi Andersson is the nurse assigned to take care of her at the beach house of Ullmann's treating physician.  While at the beach house, Andersson takes Ullmann into her confidence, only to feel betrayed when she reads a letter written by Ullmann to her Doctor describing Andersson as a specimen worthy of study.  Afterwards, the idyllic retreat turns into a twisted psychological torture session as Andersson seeks revenge.  Also she bangs Ullmann's husband.

  The most common interpretation of Persona is that it is a kind of Modernist horror film where the monster is the protagonist.  That is how I took Persona- both the first time I saw it and then this time.  In his book Images, Bergman wrote that Persona and Cries and Whispers were his two favorite works.  I also think they are the two best of his movies.  Really haunting and sticky resonating imagery.

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