Persona, A Movie by Ingmar Bergman

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I suppose I have no need to interview Ingmar Bergman to you, at least to you, who is an art-cinema fan and gladly watching the classy old movies made by great directors, and Bergman belongs to them for sure. I have once posted an article about one of his Masterworks: Wild Strawberries, in which he shows the deep lines of the life of an old man and its injuries. ( If one is interested: here )

This time here is another masterwork of him: Persona, again about the inner soul, and this one about the woman’s soul, or female identities: Elisabeth, Alma, or even Elektra. The Persona.

Let’s take a look at the story and its making-of:

Ingmar Bergman had always been a master of the intense chamber drama. But, having abandoned his search for God in the early 1960s, his growing despondency with the state of the world and the condition of cinema prompted him to move towards a new subjectivity and fascination with the metaphysical.

In 1965, he was hospitalised with double pneumonia and penicillin poisoning. To occupy his time, he composed a ‘sonata for two instruments’ around Nurse Alma and her patient, Elisabet Vogler, a famous actor who becomes mute during a stage performance of Elektra. However, as Alma (played in the film by Bibi Andersson) tries to coax Elisabet (Liv Ullmann) into the conversation, she confides long-held secrets and feels betrayed when they are exposed in a letter.

Characterized by elements of psychological horror, Persona has been the subject of much critical analysis, interpretation and debate. Taking cues from August Strindberg’s 1889 play The Stronger, Bergman chose the title Persona as this was both the Greek word for ‘mask. The film’s exploration of duality, insanity and personal identity has been interpreted as reflecting the Jungian theory of persona and dealing with issues related to filmmaking, vampirism, homosexuality, motherhood, abortion and other subjects.

(Persona’s title reflects the Latin word for “mask” and Carl Jung‘s theory of persona, an external identity separate from the soul (“alma“). Jung believed that people project public images to protect themselves, and can come to identify with their personae. An interviewer asked Bergman about the Jungian connotations of the film’s title, acknowledging an alternative interpretation that it references persona masks worn by actors in ancient drama, but saying that Jung’s concept “admirably” matched the film. Bergman agreed, saying that Jung’s theory “fits well in this case”. Coates also connected masks to themes of identity and duality: “The mask is Janus-faced”.)

He also picked Elisabet’s surname carefully, as Albert Emanuel Vogler had sapped the energy of others for his artistic endeavours in his earlier film, The Magician (1958).

The experimental style of its prologue and storytelling has also been noted. The enigmatic film has been called the Mount Everest of cinematic analysis; according to film historian Peter Cowie, “Everything one says about Persona may be contradicted; the opposite will also be true”. More here

Persona is a 1966 Swedish psychological drama film, written and directed by Ingmar Bergman and starring Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann. The story revolves around a young nurse named Alma (Andersson) and her patient, well-known stage actress Elisabet Vogler (Ullmann), who has suddenly stopped speaking. They move to a cottage, where Alma cares for Elisabet, confides in her and begins having trouble distinguishing herself from her patient.

I will come on him (Bergman) again in a later post, as I adore him a lot. 🤗🙏💖

11 thoughts on “Persona, A Movie by Ingmar Bergman

  1. Fascinating! I’m not sure if I’ve seen the film “Persona” before but you’ve definitely piqued my interest. I love the look and feel of this old film so many thanks Aladin for sharing your thoughts and reflections with us. I loved the short 12 min film you included which helps me reflect further on my own persona and identity and how, hopefully, one’s can eventually emerge from behind their mask. Hmm, lots to think about. Love and light, Deborah.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! You got it wonderfully together. Bergman has married five times and also had many loving relationships with her fabulous actresses. Therefore, I would say he had got “a little” to know about women. I think you have to watch this one! It is a beautiful explanation of the soul of femininity, highly recommended. Thank you as always, my dearest angel.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. elainemansfield

    I loved this movie a long time ago–the year Vic and I fell in love, so I saw it with him. I rarely watch movies now because sound is hard even with subtitles because there is always background music or noise. So it’s another thing to remember and release as something from the past. Thank you, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, my dear Elaine. It makes me very sad about your hearing ability. It breaks my heart! I thought you might try to watch movies with subtitles. But, that, on the other hand, makes me glad to have awakened your memories. Take care, my dear friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • elainemansfield

        I’m OK with only an occasional movie–usually a video of someone like Pema Chodron or the Dalai Lama. I don’t own a TV, so instead of TV and movies, I go outside with dogs and friends and hug trees. No need to be sad since I saw MANY movies when I had good hearing.

        Liked by 1 person

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