- 1 hr 25 min
Persona is a Swedish psychological drama film directed by Ingmar Bergman. The film is a masterpiece of the art of cinema, depicting the story of two women and how their psyches gradually merge and become one. Bibi Andersson plays the role of Alma, a young nurse assigned to take care of a famous stage actress named Elisabet Vogler, played by Liv Ullmann.
The story begins with Elisabet Vogler, a famous actress, suddenly becoming completely mute during a performance. Doctors diagnose her with psychogenic mutism, and she is taken to a secluded seaside cottage to recover from her condition. Alma is assigned to care for her, and initially everything goes smoothly. Alma talks a lot, trying to establish a connection with Elisabet, but the latter remains silent most of the time.
The two women spend their days together, walking on the beach or indulging in other leisure activities. Alma soon confesses her deepest fears and secrets to Elisabet, completely oblivious to the fact that Elisabet is not as silent as she assumes. Alma’s outburst of feelings ignites a strange intimacy between the two women.
As the days go by, the roles begin to switch. Alma slowly starts to reveal her true self to Elisabet, becoming more vulnerable and exposed. Elisabet, on the other hand, seems to be gaining some power over Alma, almost manipulating her with a knowing, but silent, smile. As the line between their personalities starts to blur, the audience questions where one woman ends, and the other begins.
The film deals with identity, sacrifice, and the power of communication, as well as the importance of one's own sense of self. Both women are established as characters with their unique traits, and as the movie progresses, their characters merge. By relying heavily on the actors' facial expressions and body language, the director portrays a sense of monstrosity and fear that initially defines the character of Alma. Elisabet on the other hand evokes a sense of a delicate, almost ethereal persona that carries with her a strange enigmatic allure.
The film is shot in black and white and is renowned for its striking cinematography. The frames are composed with symmetrical perfection, capturing the abstract interiors of the mind of both women.
Margaretha Krook plays the role of a doctor in the film, and her performance is equally compelling as the two leading ladies. She is a symbol of authority and the embodiment of the rational, scientific mind that tries to cure Elisabet.
Although the film has a simple premise and a minimalistic setting, its visual narrative structure and the given depth of respective characters is responsible for creating an enticing enigma. The cinematography is breathtaking in its simplicity yet complex in its symbolism. The film is truly a filmmaker’s masterpiece that showcases the potential of visual storytelling and the power of the human face and body in emotional expression.
In conclusion, Persona is a one of a kind film that deliberately blurs the lines between reality and fiction, creating an incredible piece of art that still resonates with audiences today. Its wonderful mix of strong performances, symbolic visual storytelling and deep psychological themes make it one of the great cinematic achievements of all time.
Persona is a 1966 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 25 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 8.1 and a MetaScore of 86.