Persona, a Swedish film by auteur director, Ingmar Bergman.
Filmed in 1966, I figured I could expect a couple of things: it was a probable black and white film, and it would likely have an interesting plot. The film is about a nurse who is assigned to care for a patient who decided to never speak again. The opening scene is a very off-putting one, filled with seemingly random clips of disturbing events (e.g. the slaughtering of a goat). After that, though, the real movie starts.
Persona really knows how to confuse the viewer. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. Was I watching a drama? Thriller? Horror? Did it even fit into a genre? It wasn’t until I was finished watching it that I could finally analyze and understand what was going on in the film. Bergman’s use of “alignment” is very prominent in this film. Have you ever seen those optical illusions in Psych class or Google where the image looks like one person, but you look at it a second time and see a totally different person?
^^^^ Those! ^^^^
Bergman uses this technique repeatedly in Persona. As I said, I didn’t notice much during the film, but I thought about it afterward. It’s an interesting move as a director. Even though it’s a camera position that I wasn’t completely comfortable with at first, I’ve considered using this technique in my own filming. I just kept thinking, “Why is only half of her face showing?” Once you watch the film on your own, you’ll realize why.
Honestly, I’m not sure if Bergman did this on purpose. But it is genius either way.
This isn’t the only way that he brings these two together without dialogue, though. He also tends to put one of them (sometimes close-up) in the foreground and one in the background. This technique also gives an uneasy feeling while watching the movie. It made me want to analyze the scene because I thought, “Why else would he make the audience feel awkward?” Most of the time, I didn’t know what I was supposed to piece together. I felt like the director gave me a single-colored Rubik’s cube to solve. I was confused, but still… I wanted to solve it. These styles made me pay close attention to the scene because I felt like something important was happening, as they didn’t just happen throughout every scene in the movie.
Ingmar Bergman was successful in making his auteur-style film. He bent the lines of the average psychological drama and it’s definitely a movie that would have to be seen more than once to appreciate its artistry.
It’s nothing personal, Bergman! The movie feels too long and the fact that it’s super confusing doesn’t help. The most interesting part to me was the part when Anna is talking about her past (and if you’ve seen the film, it’s pretty vulgar). Other than that, there were a lot of awkward silences and hopes that the film will end soon. The most I got out of it is a good back drop.
As far as creativity goes, you’ve got it, Bergman! The use of illusions to captivate Anna and Elisabeth being one person? That is absolute genius! Although, that was pretty much the only thing that was intruiging. The rest of the film was a bunch of nonsense to me… But maybe I’m just not that open-minded.
<<SPOILER BIT OVER>>
Anyway, go watch the movie, rate it yourself and pass it on. It definitely is a film that should be watched by anyone who aspires to be a filmmaker. There are a million different things to learn from this film. I definitely feel that it will have an influence on my filmmaking from now on (in the best way).
All in all, I didn’t really love the film (even though I am glad that I saw it) and I certainly would never watch it again. Sorry, Bergman. Better luck next time. On to the next one.