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Persona (1966)

Not Rated | | Drama, Thriller | 16 March 1967 (USA)
A nurse is put in charge of a mute actress and finds that their personas are melding together.

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Top Rated Movies #200 | Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 6 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Storyline

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

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Previously unseen Director's Cut See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Details

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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?

Trivia

The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list. See more »

Quotes

The Doctor: I understand, all right. The hopeless dream of being - not seeming, but being. At every waking moment, alert. The gulf between what you are with others and what you are alone. The vertigo and the constant hunger to be exposed, to be seen through, perhaps even wiped out. Every inflection and every gesture a lie, every smile a grimace. Suicide? No, too vulgar. But you can refuse to move, refuse to talk, so that you don't have to lie. You can shut yourself in. Then you needn't play any parts or ...
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Connections

Referenced in Oldeuboi (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Adagio from Concerto No. 2 in E major for Violin, Strings and Continuo, BWV 1042
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
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User Reviews

 
An intriguing, beguiling and fascinating look into the state of individual existence, psychosis and shared experiences
15 February 2001 | by (New York, NY, USA) – See all my reviews

persona n 1: an actor's portrayal of someone in a play; 2: Jungian psychology A personal facade one presents to the world, a public image is "as fragile as Humpty Dumpty"

personas pl: The role that one assumes or displays in public or society; one's public image or personality as distinguished from the inner self.

The above definitions help, at least a little, to understand or define the experience of Ingmar Bergmann's 1966 film "Persona".

"Persona" is an experience. And "Persona" IS experience. Indescribable not because it wants to be, but indescribable because it is. Who are we? Who do we want to be? Who are we comfortable being? Who do we need to be? And why? Some of the overlapping questions in this reviewer's mind during and after this engrossing and occasionally haunting work include, just how does this event and that event happen? Is it live, or is it memorex?? Most notably, Bergmann's skillful black-and-white film, which stars Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann, raises complex and interesting questions through the simplest images and minimum movement of camera and actor. The visual psychology is remarkable, powerful. Sven Nykvist's textured cinematography vividly brings the power (and subtlety) alive. Close-ups of the two lead actors' faces, and their symmetry, blend to make strong suggestions about what is transpiring between the two characters.

The two characters, Alma the Nurse (Andersson) and Elisabet Vogel (Ullmann), a stage actress, share very little. Alternately, they might share quite a lot. Much more perhaps than they want to. Elisabet gives new meaning to the expression "silence is golden", and that expression serves the film perfectly. "Persona" is "Fight Club" before "Fight Club" -- without the noise, dizzying effects and backgrounds of David Fincher's 1999 film. In "Persona", everything, from the very beginning to the very end, happen for a reason. The minimalist aspects, the editing, the continuous metaphor laden within dialogue, movement, time and space; the fact that the film is in Swedish language with English white-text subtitles, and with surrealism engulfing the viewer, makes Bergmann's "Persona" a pleasure personified (excuse the pun). Indeed, "Persona" is explicit in feel, mood, tone, dialogue, revelation and imagery.

Together, Bergmann and Nykvist produce beautiful artistry. There are moments of deconstruction within the film to distance its audience, and this is an artistic statement designed to formulate questions in the viewer's mind, rather than to baffle the viewer. The moments of deconstruction of narrative/medium at the beginning, middle and end of "Persona" are what one might call psychological, not "special", effects, as audiences today are accustomed to. The black-and-white film stock of "Persona" symbolizes the gray areas residing around, within and between Alma and Elisabet. Seeing this film in a theater is a treat, and although it has been available on video for many years, it is amazing to experience on a big screen. With the artistry and visuals working to perfection to ingeniously challenge the audience, one is inclined to almost forget the great performances of Anderson and Ullmann.

Cinema, when articulated through films like "Persona", is never better.


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