Thursday, January 12, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Persona (1966) ****

NR, 85 min.
Director/Writer: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann

I’m almost afraid to comment on such a monumental movie as Bergamn’s “Persona”. There is so much here to interpret and contemplate, I’m not sure a single viewing is enough to fully experience this masterpiece. One thing that strikes me the most about this movie is the fact that there isn’t a filmmaker today brave enough to make a movie like this.

“Persona” plays almost like a horror movie. Its remote setting reminded of Bergman’s “Hour of the Wolf”, although it isolates its characters even more than that one. It involves a nurse who is assigned to watch after an actress who has stopped talking. They move in together in a secluded beach house. As they spend more time together, their personalities seem to begin to merge.

Bergman fills the conflict between these two women with striking images, including many that have been referenced in many other great directors’ films since. Steven Spielberg’s staging of the double face shot in his sci-fi noir “Minority Report” must’ve been influenced by Bergman’s camera from “Persona”. The psychological implications of many of Bergman’s shots and editing suggest certain conclusions about these women, but Bergman is able to create a concrete story that has more than one definitive interpretation about its meaning.

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