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Persona (1966)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  16 March 1967 (USA)
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Reviews: 160 user | 104 critic

A nurse is put in charge of an actress who can't talk and finds that the actress's persona is melding with hers.



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Title: Persona (1966)

Persona (1966) on IMDb 8.2/10

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Top 250 #179 | Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 8 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Margaretha Krook ...


A young nurse, Alma, is put in charge of Elisabeth Vogler: an actress who is seemingly healthy in all respects, but will not talk. As they spend time together, Alma speaks to Elisabeth constantly, never receiving any answer. Alma eventually confesses her secrets to a seemingly sympathetic Elisabeth and finds that her own personality is being submerged into Elisabeth's persona. Written by Kathy Li

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

actress | nurse | silence | beach | medical | See All (77) »


A new film by Ingmar Bergman See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

16 March 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Persona  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Susan Sontag wrote that she considered Persona the greatest film ever made. See more »


Sister Alma: What are you hiding under your hand? Let me see. It's the photo of your little boy. The one you tore up. We must talk about it. Tell me about it, Elisabet. Then I will. lt was one night at a party, isn't that right? It got late and quite rowdy. Towards morning someone in the group said: "Elisabet, you virtually have it all in your armoury as woman and artist. But you lack motherliness." You laughed because you thought it sounded silly. But after a while you noticed you thought about what he'd ...
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Referenced in 8MM (1999) See more »

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Persona is an inclination to have an ideal personality.
23 December 2008 | by (Sweden) – See all my reviews

Persona is a commendable movie by Bergman. It's not a simple movie to be seen just one time. This film should be commented in many aspects: cinematography, acting, directing, and lightening besides the theme. In this film I could see so much about visual elements of film making. You can easily mute this film and understand the scenes without the monologues. On the other hand you can just listen to the monologues of the nurse (Bibi An.) without watching the movie and that is also admirable. Here I just try to focus on main theme of the movie.

I have seen this movie for many times and after each time I changed my mind about the interpretation of this movie. Finally I found that Alma and Elizabeth are actually the same. Instead of considering two separate characters, Alma and Elizabeth, I saw Alma as the conscience of Elizabeth. The leading role of this movie is Elizabeth, even though Alma is the one who speaks during the whole movie. We know that Elizabeth has some kind of problems with herself. She is not sick because we know that she is mentally and physically normal. Her problem is the chasm between what she is to others and to herself. These two sides of her characteristics have been gathered in Alma. Therefore Alma is not a separate character from Elizabeth. She is Elizabeth's inside. Alma in the nursing dress is the good conscience of Elizabeth who tries to correct her, but Alma in other appearances is exactly Elizabeth's characteristic as it is shown to the others, mostly seen when they are in the summer place by the sea.

To support my notes I will refer you to some scenes of the movie; first of all, the scene that Elizabeth's husband comes to her but the one who encounters him is Alma, however he thinks that he is talking to his wife. We also see in a marvelous scene, where the husband is talking, the camera zooms to Elizabeth's face which gives the sense to viewers that Elizabeth is addressed by him. But we see that Alma is talking instead. Thirdly the scene in which Elizabeth takes Alma's hand to her husband's face and touches it, can also be considered as a support to my note. Another supportive gesture is the scene in which Alma imagines Elizabeth beside her when she is looking to the camera and then they put their heads on their shoulders. This scene has been repeated for three times during the whole movie. The scene in which Alma thinks that Elizabeth has said: "You should go to bed now, otherwise you'll fall asleep at the table." And the day after that Alma asks her these two questions:"Did you speak to me last night?"," Were you in my room last night? "

Doctor in this movie is the one who knows everything. She wants to correct Elizabeth by the nurse which as we said earlier is Elizabeth's good conscience. Elizabeth remains at the hospital in the whole movie and she just imagines that she goes to that summer place. Actually the struggle between Elizabeth and the good conscience happens in her imagination.

Elizabeth gradually got closer and closer to her good side of conscience during the movie although she didn't show any tendency to it at the first scenes. And finally we see that she totally follows her good conscience when she repeats the word, nothing, said by Alma to her. This is where the mission of Alma is completed.

In my opinion there are some vague scenes in this movie which I will go through. I saw an erect penis, a spider, a sheep, a nail in a hand, an old woman, an old man and a little boy in the beginning of the movie which raise some questions, i.e. why did Bergman use these elements in the beginning of his movie? What is the relation between these elements and the whole story? I just can give my understanding about penis element. Elizabeth hated to have a baby. Since penis can be considered as the source of making baby therefore it is involved in the first part.

I have seen some films directed by David Lynch, and I have found that Lynch's movies have many things in common with Bergman's, especially they both have taken scenes with seemingly irrelevant elements (such as a penis, a spider, a sheep, a nail, etc in this movie which we talked about them above) to the general trend of the movie. And also both tend to take surrealism, insanity and depression to pictures. It seems that Lynch has been affected by Bergman's movies, even stepped further.

It's important to notice that the movie starts in the view of the little boy. Elizabeth didn't want to have a child. While she is playing the Electra she decides to be silent. It seems that Elizabeth's silence is mainly caused by her problem with having child. So that's why Bergman depicts the boy in the beginning of his movie. The film starts with the boy watching and touching a picture of a woman which seems to be his mother in his imagination. The picture becomes clear by touching more and more. We have the same scene at the end of the movie, but at this time the picture vanishes (becomes white) when the boy touches it, and this means that the Elizabeth's problem is solved.

"Shaveh Kaham"

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