7 items from 2014
Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman’s Persona is probably the great Swedish filmmaker’s most perplexing and thought-provoking work; it’s certainly his most surreal. Unusual imagery and curious narrative developments aren’t necessarily foreign to the rest of his filmography, but they have never been as frequent as they are here, nor have they been as overtly inexplicable. (Even if their meanings remain unclear, at least the dream sequences in Wild Strawberries can be clearly identified as dreams; there is no such easy rationalization here.) With so much happening in this 1966 feature, so many levels of story and visual complexity, it’s little wonder that Persona has yielded a great deal of discussion and analysis. And subsequently, it’s little wonder that the newly released Blu-ray/DVD from the Criterion Collection is accompanied by an excellent gathering of supplemental material, enhancing an already fascinating film, »
- Jeremy Carr
It's hard to believe it has already been more than three years since I first saw Ingmar Bergman's Persona. The first Bergman film I saw was The Seventh Seal back in 2007 and I was immediately hooked. I quickly followed that up with Wild Strawberries and have since come to own many of the iconic Swedish director's films, and as much as I never believed anything he directed could effect me as much as Seventh Seal, Persona is a whole new level of filmmaking. I've been asked before if a film can still be enjoyable even if you don't entirely understand it. Persona is evidence that the answer is a resounding yes. The film came about after Bergman fell ill in 1959 as he was planning on beginning work on a film with Liv Ullman and Bibi Andersson titled The Cannibals. That film never came to fruition. While recovering in the hospital, »
- Brad Brevet
Few films have ever been as dissected and analyze as Ingmar Bergman’s “Persona”, recently released on Criterion Blu-ray for the first time with new special features. It’s somewhat ironic that so many people have spent so much intellectual energy on a film that Bergman admits came to him at a point of low health almost in a dream. In fact, “Persona” somewhat becomes less interesting to me as it’s dissected, much like Lynch’s “Mulholland Dr.” or Malick’s “Tree of Life”. They are distinctly emotional, symbolic pieces and perhaps they should just be appreciated as such instead of such analysis of “what they mean.” However you choose to appreciate one of Bergman’s most influential films, you should do so with the Criterion edition from this day forward.
As for special features on this new edition, the two that are most powerful for me are »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Ingmar Bergman’s Persona is now available in a sharp and stunning Blu-ray from Criterion. This 1966 production has attained a special place in critics’ hearts over the years, and stands proudly at #17 on Sight & Sound’s prestigious greatest films list; the highest ranking earned by any Bergman product. Persona contains many of the distinct elements – and a number of the iconic images – that have come to define the late Swedish master’s oeuvre, and at the time the film was considered an artistic breakthrough, tilling new grounds of style and substance.
In fact, Persona deals with universal themes that had deeply fascinated Bergman ever since his transition from interpreter to auteur in the early 1950s. The silence of God, and man’s floundering follies in response, is a major conceptual catalyst, surging through Persona’s bleak gray skies like a web of jangled nerves. What makes the film unique is »
- David Anderson
Moviefone's Top DVD of the Week
"The Great Beauty" (Criterion)
What's It About? A blast from the past sends man-about-town Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo) reeling and reminiscing about his life and loves in Rome. The 65-year-old writer (of a sort) has had quite a life so far, but has he grown to take the richness of life and Rome for granted?
Why We're In: Even if you're not hip to Italian cinema and Sorrentino's influences, you'll still enjoy this Oscar-winning film.
Moviefone's Top Blu-ray of the Week
"The King of Comedy" (30th Anniversary Edition)
What's It About? Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) is desperate to become famous. Once he meets talk show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis), he's sure his dreams of fame and fortune are coming true. All he has to do is convince Langford to have him on his show, and then Rupert will be the real king of comedy. »
- Jenni Miller
The Criterion Collection
A Mystery of Faces
Much has already been written about Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 head-scratcher, Persona—it’s been analyzed, dissected, reconstructed, and debated, and it still remains a cinematic enigma, and a brilliant one at that. Of all of the Swedish master’s challenging works, Persona is undoubtedly the most complex, audacious, radical, and experimental film Bergman ever made. It’s also been widely parodied and imitated. Its influence on other filmmakers, and on pop culture itself, cannot be taken lightly.
Persona, which means “mask” in Latin, is all about artifice. Bergman makes no pretentions that what the audience is viewing is make-believe—it is an invented drama about personalities hiding behind “masks,” if you will, performed for a camera that translates the images onto celluloid. In fact, Bergman begins Persona with an extraordinary prologue consisting of »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
Oscar-winning Danish director of Babette's Feast
In April 1988, a week before his 70th birthday, the film director Gabriel Axel, who has died aged 95, walked up on stage at the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles to receive the best foreign language film Oscar for Babette's Feast (1987), the first Danish movie to achieve that honour. In a mixture of Danish and French, the slim, grey-bearded, bespectacled Axel quoted a line from the character of the General in the film: "Because of this evening, I have learned, my dear, that in this beautiful world of ours, all things are possible."
It was the pinnacle of Axel's long career and marked the beginning of a resurgence of Danish cinema. (Another Danish film, Bille August's Pelle the Conqueror, won the foreign language Oscar the following year.) Despite several fine films, there was previously little in Axel's oeuvre to predict the perfection of Babette's Feast. »
- Ronald Bergan
7 items from 2014
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