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Overall Rating
4.56

Awesome80%
Worth A Look: 8%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 12%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 13 user ratings



Persona
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by Dr. Isaksson

"The Ultimate Masquerade of the Mind"
5 stars

Ingmar Bergman's 1965 masterpiece "Persona" is like stepping into a dream. A massive web of thoughts and feelings encompass you, some good, some bad, some utterly confusing. Yet like dreams, things are never what they seem.

A director for over 40 years, Ingmar Bergman has given the world a great choice of classic films, all somewhat obscure to the modern filmgoer but highly important to the world of cinema. In all of his films you can find his trademark, whether it be a camera angle or an important line. But just when you thought you had his style down, Bergman becomes a chameleon, changing the colors of his films in subtle, amazing ways. When he began writing and directing in the late 40's, there were limits on what could be said and done but as those constraints slowly lifted so did the restrictions in his films. Nowhere is that more noticeable than in Persona. Bergman's most fearlessly original work ever.

This puzzlebox of a film is one of the most thought provoking and intense studies of human nature I have ever seen. The movie begins with a young nurse named Alma (played by Bibi Andersson) assigned to care for an actress named Elisabeth Vogler (played by Liv Ullmann) who has gone mute for no apparent reason. The doctors at the mental hospital where Elisabeth is staying do not know what to think of their patient because she is capable of speech, but chooses not to say a word. The head therapist (Margaretha Krook) does not see the need to keep Elisabeth in the hospital any longer.

So Nurse Alma and Elisabeth head off to an island retreat to help Elisabeth regain her senses and strength so that she can return to the real world again.(Her world of acting and parties). During their idyllic stay, Alma begins to feel a closeness towards her patient and draws near Elisabeth who she admires and finds fascinating. Alma begins to share with Elisabeth her own deepest feelings and the doubts concerning her fiancee and her future with him. Also, Alma reveals a painful memory of her first sexual experience which resulted in a terrible secret she has never confessed to anyone. But with Elisabeth, Alma feels as though she could relate such painful events to her, for Elisabeth was now her dear friend.

One afternoon, Alma offers to mail letters Elisabeth has written to friends. While driving to the post, Alma sees that one letter has mistakenly not been sealed. She reads the contents of this letter and is completely devastated with what Elisabeth has written. A complete betrayal of trust has occurred.

It is here that Persona breaks in half, (literally.) The film slashes itself in two and melts away. Alma cannot contain her anger and it rises and rises until finally she releases her rage torwards Elisabeth, with shattering results. A face to face meeting of the minds occur between the two women and Alma now turns the tables on Elisabeth, pulling out the secrets Elisabeth has been hiding under. In one jarring scene of harsh revelation, the answers to her total silence is revealed. And as the film comes to it's close the viewer must ask themselves. "What of this has been true and what has been just a trick of the mind?"

Ingmar Bergman's Persona is a thrilling, chilling, thought provoking masterpiece. His direction is stellar, perhaps the best of his career, and the imagery he captures of the two women and the island location is so beautiful that it looks as though it were filmed through a frosted glass lens. The cinematography of Sven Nykfst is entrancing. His fearless close-ups and dream like sequences are mesmerizing to behold. This praise also deserves to be lauded on the performances. Bibi Andersson is perfectly commanding and yet vulnerable as Alma and Liv Ullmann is nothing short of brilliant as Elisabeth. She portrays many varied emotions without the aid of words in a masterful way. After a couple viewings of Persona, I became aware that as a viewer I became so lost in her performance that I did not even notice that she had not spoken a word, yet I somehow always knew exactly what she was thinking of. Amazing.

Persona has been described as the "Ulysses" of the movie world. So intricate and layered that it might never be completely understood. But after seeing it several times I am slightly convinced that they may be right. Perhaps I will never understand the full grasp of it's meaning. I don't think Ingmar Bergman wants me to.

Ingmar Bergman has been one of the most enigmatic of all film directors. But nothing can prepare you for the ultimate trip into the human psyche that is "Persona". ***** 5 Stars

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5737&reviewer=296
originally posted: 01/26/02 07:55:54
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User Comments

6/08/16 mr.mike is noice 4 stars
7/05/13 PAUL SHORTT INTENSE, HAUNTING, COMPLEX, MYSTERIOUS EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGICAL DRAMA, BRILLIANTLY MADE 5 stars
10/07/08 brian Groundbreaking 40 years ago; embarrassingly pretentious today. 2 stars
3/30/06 Ademir deep and great.-The source of Lynch works 5 stars
10/11/05 Agent Sands One of those deep, limited cast films, and a high point in both stars' careers. 4 stars
1/12/05 ali_hojabrian sdfrevgyt 2 stars
6/04/04 MyGreenBed One of the truly great works of cinematic art. Always in my all-time top 3 without fail. 5 stars
7/06/03 john_cord Overrated 2 stars
7/04/03 paul fernandez persona is truly an inspiration for wanna be film makers 5 stars
5/17/03 Mo Bergman's masterpiece about the inadequacy of words and the fragile nature of identity. 5 stars
6/14/02 Kelly I am so mesmerised by this work of genius! Perfection in every sense! 5 stars
4/04/02 Victoria Glidden The movie is haunting and beautiful. It is poetry in it's music and enchantment 5 stars
2/27/02 Marie Truly a work of art. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  16-Mar-1967
  DVD: 10-Feb-2004

UK
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