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40 Persona 
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Post Re: 40 Persona 1966
From Zeppelin

Unfortunately, you're too late Rob. You see, one day before you made that post, I watched No. 40, Persona, as my first Bergman feature. However, my reaction was, in the end similar but throughout different from yours. I connected early on with Persona, and was transfixed by what was happening for most of it's running length. I never "worked hard," as you put it, but I did do quite a bit thinking during it's running. I'd say that the only time Persona ever infuriated me was the seemingly random surrealistic images thrown in around the half way point, but post-viewing I realized that those images provided a cut-off point for the heavy eroticism present in the first half.

Still, I suppose it is pretty odd that I made a connection with the dense and difficult Persona but felt distant from the more humane Grand Illusion. I have a great admiration for dark, thoughtful films and Persona is without a doubt a dark, thoughtful film. We've all had moments where we questioned our own identity and felt betrayed by someone close, and that's something Persona brilliantly taps into. Couple that with a couple of the greatest performances I've ever seen on screen by Bibi Anderson and Liv Ullman and I ended up loving Persona. Even when Bergman did his best to remind the viewer that the film was an illusion, Persona is still a brilliant little examination of our own humanity, and how we define ourselves as people. A true classic. 10/10.


Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:55 am
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Post Re: 40 Persona 1966
Just saw Persona. And yes, this was my first Bergman movie. Oops.

Hmm... where to begin...

This will take work. A LOT of work. I really don't know what to think about it at the moment, having just finished it. I kind of get the drift, but I'm going to do some more research soon.

I will say though, this is some of the best acting I've seen since The Passion of Joan of Arc. It really had to be that good, especially considering how bare this story is. It's just the two actresses all the way through, and only one of them speaks.

The cinematography was spectacular. I know I've been saying that a lot lately, but Persona undeniable has some of the best images out there.

I'll revisit this thread soon.


Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:02 am
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Post Re: 40 Persona 1966
It's been a while since I've seen Persona so I'll have to by spare. You're welcome.

Bergman made two forays into horror -- Hour of the Wolf and Persona. Hour of the Wolf is more conventional horror (for Bergman, at any rate) but Persona is more of your David Lynch brand of nightmare. It's the better film for it. And it's also the better film because, after Persona, Bergman went on to do his best work. You get the feeling that, whatever he was exorcising with Persona, you wouldn't want any part of it.

For the record, and before I start the feverish typing, Persona isn't my favorite Bergman. I didn't find his work (and I watched 23 of his films over a two-month span) to be as chilly and confounding as, say, David Lynch. I think Bergman, and Persona, is mostly heart with a good dose of brain thrown in. But mostly heart. There's a sickening sadness to everything in Persona -- Alma and the husband having sex right next to Elisabet, Elisabet's muteness, the violence directed at Elisabet by her nurse. It's such a painful movie that, when you find the chord of misery Bergman has settled on, the whole project -- the scattered pictures at the beginning, Alma's eventual breakdown (and totally mysterious recovery), the second montage -- makes a great amount of sense. It's as if Bergman took all his confusion, misery, frustration, physical illness (he was apparently at death's door when he wrote the script) and spit it all out onto film. A kind of meditation on his own condition at the time and, as some theories regarding the film have claimed, a criticism of the state of film. That last part? The criticism on the state of film? I don't buy it.

In the end we're given a clue that is fairly meaningful: the actress and her nurse become one person. It's an act (just like the rest of the film) of cinematography as well as, I believe, a chance for Bergman to realize his relationship with his actors, the camera, all the rest... how they are all one in the same.

But, clearly, I had to come up with something. I've seen the film twice and, as I've said, it isn't my favorite. I find it brutal, mesmerizing, and unbelievably frustrating. I take it that Bergman wanted it to be exactly that way for the viewer -- how else to scream out?

If it doesn't work for you as a linear narrative (and, really, it probably doesn't work for anyone as a linear narrative) then take it as a continuation of Kenneth Anger's work. A precursor to Matthew Barney. It's a film, yeah, but it's also thousands of little ideal photographs strung together that, if you play them at the correct rate, you get Persona. I don't know if anyone can make heads or tails of it and I'm not entirely convinced Bergman knew what he was doing. He was too angry to bother explaining what he saw in his mind. So there you go: Persona, a dream of Bergman that's a dream of Elisabet's. But for all the "not one of my favorites" I can spit out I'd still call it an incredible achievement. So raw! Zeppelin knocked it out of the park when he wrote

Quote:
"Even when Bergman did his best to remind the viewer that the film was an illusion, Persona is still a brilliant little examination of our own humanity, and how we define ourselves as people.


Rob gives it a 9/10.
Zeppelin says 10/10.
darthyoshi's numerical summary is pending.
Bergman made 11 perfect films in his career, in my estimation. I haven't seen several so that number is liable to rise. I count Persona among those eleven and so I'll be seconding Zeppelin with that 10/10. His second most important film, right behind The Silence.


Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:45 am
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Post Re: 40 Persona 1966
Well, I've done some research, read through some intense articles, and I'm honestly in the same spot as I was before. The articles all pointed to clues that suggested more that occurred off screen. But none of them said what that was. They all identified the clues and made their own suggestions, but nothing was definite.

This is the most difficult film I have ever seen.

This is worse than reading The Sound and The Fury.

This is more enigmatic than 2001.

The conclusion that I like most is that the two women have completely exchanged identities. Alma has taken on Elisabet's condition, and after weeks of analyzing Alma's character, Elisabet has now become her. Elisabet is the mastermind of all of this. In the beginning, Alma was worried that she might not be strong enough to take care of Elisabet. She also observed that Elisabet must be very resilient and headstrong in order to refrain from interacting for so long. However, this was also the conclusion that said that the psychologist in the beginning was wrong about Elisabet, which I'm not sure about. Some sources say that the scene with Elisabet's husband was fantasy.

Shit, the more I think about it, the harder it gets.

I did read that Bergman said that this was the first film that he made in which he did not care if anyone liked it. He wasn't worried about ticket sales or critics. He was sick with pneumonia when he wrote it. He said that if he had not made Persona, he probably would not have continued his film career.

I think that if he doesn't care if anyone likes it, he probably doesn't care if anyone understands it. It was a personal thing for him that he had to work through. So while I can appreciate the function that this film served in the grand scheme of Bergman's career, I find it difficult to do the same for this movie as an individual work. This is something that everyone will feel different about, it all depends on the individual. On top of all that, it seems a little self-absorbed. It reminds me of how Kubrick did not give 2001 any obvious meaning, but denied that it was meaningless. At least he encouraged debate. Bergman didn't care. I really want to like this movie, but I can't. I'm just not there.

Maybe after I watch more Bergman. Sorry to leave you hanging.


Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:51 am
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Post Re: 40 Persona 1966
i think that persona more than most captures why we love these greta movies.

It's annoying as hell, impenetrable and completely intoxicating.

I wish that L'Avventura held the same sway for me.

Now I know that some may read these comments and prior posts on this film and think that a small group of us have lost our minds.

I am going to watch Persona again pretty soon.

This is now just about the only reason I say on this forum. Discussions with you guys about these movies is,as Mastercard might put it....

....priceless

Rob


Tue Aug 11, 2009 1:10 pm
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Post Re: 40 Persona 1966
Robert Holloway wrote:
i think that persona more than most captures why we love these greta movies.

It's annoying as hell, impenetrable and completely intoxicating.

I wish that L'Avventura held the same sway for me.

Now I know that some may read these comments and prior posts on this film and think that a small group of us have lost our minds.

I am going to watch Persona again pretty soon.

This is now just about the only reason I say on this forum. Discussions with you guys about these movies is,as Mastercard might put it....

....priceless

Rob


I totally agree. Of all the forums I have ever been on, this one has the most interesting discussions. Even in the religious/political threads, things remain civil and thoughtful. How did that happen? It's like the Holy Grail of the internet!


Tue Aug 11, 2009 5:15 pm
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Post Re: 40 Persona 1966
darthyoshi wrote:
I totally agree. Of all the forums I have ever been on, this one has the most interesting discussions. Even in the religious/political threads, things remain civil and thoughtful. How did that happen? It's like the Holy Grail of the internet!


It's the heavenly touch of Berardenelli. I think we should all start a church in his name. Who's with me?

So am I the only person here who didn't find Persona completely impenetrable on first viewing? As you probably gathered from my first post, I love this movie and find it to be about as haunting a work of art as art can be. My only advice for you darthyoshi is not to think about it. As major and yourself have said, it seems like Bergman himself didn't even quite know what he was saying with Persona, and instead intended it to be something that everyone takes something different from. This is one of the few films I love that I feel just fine leaving be and not trying to solve. I understand the desire to make sense of it, but not doing so doesn't bother me at all. Different strokes for different folks, as they say.

Also, in no way is this more difficult than The Sound and The Fury. If I wasn't forced to read that book, I doubt I would've made it past 20 pages before giving up. I'm glad I didn't since the final two parts were fantastic, but I still hold that part 1 may one of the most confounding things ever written by a human being.

Quote:
Bergman made 11 perfect films in his career, in my estimation. I haven't seen several so that number is liable to rise. I count Persona among those eleven and so I'll be seconding Zeppelin with that 10/10. His second most important film, right behind The Silence.


What do you consider the other 9 perfect Bergman films to be? So far I've only seen Persona and Cries And Whispers. I loved Persona and had about the same opinion on CAW that Rob had on Persona. I found it infuriating after about 30 minutes, but came around later on, and ended up liking it a great deal (if it's possible to like something that painful, anyway). My local library has Bergman's faith trilogy (Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence) and The Hour of The Wolf. Where would you place those in the Bergman canon?


Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:10 pm
Post Re: 40 Persona 1966
Zeppelin wrote:

What do you consider the other 9 perfect Bergman films to be?
So far I've only seen Persona and Cries And Whispers. I loved Persona and had about the same opinion on CAW that Rob had on Persona. I found it infuriating after about 30 minutes, but came around later on, and ended up liking it a great deal (if it's possible to like something that painful, anyway). My local library has Bergman's faith trilogy (Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence) and The Hour of The Wolf. Where would you place those in the Bergman canon?


In reverse chronological order:

#11 - Fanny and Alexander (my personal favorite of all his films) [1983]
#10 - Autumn Sonata [1978]
#9 - The Magic Flute [1975]
#8 - Scenes from a Marriage (the theatrical version isn't as great as the miniseries) [1973]
#7 - The Touch [1971]
#6 - Persona [1966]
#5 - The Silence [1963]
#4 - Through a Glass Darkly [1961]
#3 - The Virgin Spring [1960]
#2 - Wild Strawberries [1957]
#1 - The Seventh Seal [1957]

Bergman had an output volume that rivals few working today (save for someone like Takashi Miike, the single most prolific filmmaker in history, it seems) and his hit-to-miss ratio was approaching infinity. He's not my favorite filmmaker by any means but he's, note for note, the one I admire the most outside of a fellow like Robert Altman.


Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:38 pm
Post Re: 40 Persona 1966
Zeppelin wrote:
My local library has Bergman's faith trilogy (Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence) and The Hour of The Wolf. Where would you place those in the Bergman canon?


The trilogy, in order, is a good place to start. The Hour of the Wolf is a safe pick if you enjoyed Persona... which you did. It's probably his least Bermanian of all his films.


Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:40 pm
Post Re: 40 Persona 1966
I've seen 1,2,3,6,8,10 and 11
Next up Cries and Whispers for me
I never thought I'd like Ingmar Bergman:-)
Rob


Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:46 am
Post Re: 40 Persona
Persona is a tad bit over-rated by you all...


Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:44 pm
Post Re: 40 Persona
Judah wrote:
Persona is a tad bit over-rated by you all...


How would you rate it? Did you even like it?


Fri Nov 20, 2009 10:51 pm
Post Re: 40 Persona
I finally got around to watching Persona earlier this week. Where do I even begin? How do you jump into a discussion of this film? Hell, I don't know. I read through everyone's comments here and I think this paragraph from major sums the film up pretty damn well:

majoraphasia wrote:
If it doesn't work for you as a linear narrative (and, really, it probably doesn't work for anyone as a linear narrative) then take it as a continuation of Kenneth Anger's work. A precursor to Matthew Barney. It's a film, yeah, but it's also thousands of little ideal photographs strung together that, if you play them at the correct rate, you get Persona. I don't know if anyone can make heads or tails of it and I'm not entirely convinced Bergman knew what he was doing. He was too angry to bother explaining what he saw in his mind. So there you go: Persona, a dream of Bergman that's a dream of Elisabet's.


I think the film transcends the term "art film" and seeps it's way into pure "art". I'm not entirely sure what that even means, but I saw the film on a different plane than I do other films. I saw it as art. It wasn't just a film, or a story. It uses the entire medium of film to explore the concept of reality vs. illusion. The film turns into an almost philisophical handling of the subject of reality, that goes beyond something as simple as narrative.

The narrative is used in the film to confuse to the viewer. Like Zeppelin said in an earlier post, there are hints as to what's going on, but nothing is definite. To me, that's the point. Is what we're perceiving on-screen actually happening? Are these women the same person? - etc. The film leads you in many different directions, asking many different questions, and answers not one. There is no way anyone can make heads or tails of the story, and that's exactly how Bergman wanted it. Bergman forces a reaction out of the viewer, whether that be one of contempt, congratulatory praise, or something in between. I'd argue that it's the reaction that is the only thing that can be considered real, since Bergman so eloquently shows us that what we perceive cannot necessarily be trusted. We watch a film for 90 minutes and understand absolutely nothing, yet we still react, in some way, to what we've seen. Bergman could have just as easily shown us a pile of steaming shit for 90 minutes (and I'm sure there are those that would aruge that's precisely what Persona is). The genius of the movie, however, is that Bergman is playing on our conditioned norms of movie watching and tricking us into thinking what we're watching works as some kind of story that we can piece together. He's able to make quite a few scenes absolutely compelling. This holds the viewer's interest, and separates it from just showing us a series of images, or a singular steaming pile of shit. He forces the viewer to work through the film, yet the reward can't be had in a traditional narrative sense. The reward, for me, was in figuring out that it doesn't make much sense, and then figuring out why a filmmaker would do such a thing.

Now, do I like the film? Do I enjoy it? Honestly, not really. I can appreciate the movie as a work of art, but I may be a little too conditioned to be able to fully enjoy such an avant-garde style. At the same time, it's a film that I'll think about forever, and that's something I highly value in movies. The film is more intelligent, and has more substance, than all but a handful that I've ever seen. Its a major achievement in film, deserves to be called a masterpiece, and should be required viewing for anyone who takes film the slightest bit seriously. Yet, it's something I doubt I'll ever watch again. It isn't entertainment, and really, isn't designed to be.

As for a rating, well, I defy anyone to accurately rate Persona. It cannot be done. At least, I can't do it. The best I can come up with is its something I recommend, but I don't expect all that many people to enjoy it.


Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:54 pm
Post Re: 40 Persona
Score one for Pete!

After I watched Persona for the first time I, too, was convinced I wouldn't have to see it again. But that faded as some of the images (not the least of which is the terrifying superimposition of the lead actresses heads) returned time and again.

There's something else, too.

It's Bibi Andersson. Her performance is the definitive Bergman female performance. The scene wherein she confesses an affair is among the saddest, most erotic speeches in filmdom. That she could bring such heat to a monologue that culminates in a pregnancy being terminated... that's the kind of confusion I love from Bergman. He never wrote anything so incredibly sexual and so pathetic at the same time.

It starts with a brief history of motion pictures that ends with Persona... Bergman wants us to believe that film history leads up to this movie and away from the same thing. He outdid himself and his conventional narratives were all the better after this.


Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:00 am
Post Re: 40 Persona
This post in the style of the movie Persona.

*clears throat*

Introduction
I finally got around to watching Persona earlier this week. Where do I even begin? How do you jump into a discussion of this film? Hell, I don't know.

Thoughts on the Plot
The conclusion that I like most is that the two women have completely exchanged identities. Alma has taken on Elisabet's condition, and after weeks of analyzing Alma's character, Elisabet has now become her. Elisabet is the mastermind of all of this. In the beginning, Alma was worried that she might not be strong enough to take care of Elisabet. She also observed that Elisabet must be very resilient and headstrong in order to refrain from interacting for so long. However, this was also the conclusion that said that the psychologist in the beginning was wrong about Elisabet, which I'm not sure about. Some sources say that the scene with Elisabet's husband was fantasy.

What I liked Most
It's Bibi Andersson. Her performance is the definitive Bergman female performance. The scene wherein she confesses an affair is among the saddest, most erotic speeches in filmdom. That she could bring such heat to a monologue that culminates in a pregnancy being terminated... that's the kind of confusion I love from Bergman. He never wrote anything so incredibly sexual and so pathetic at the same time.

Conclusion
Now, do I like the film? Do I enjoy it? Honestly, not really. I can appreciate the movie as a work of art, but I may be a little too conditioned to be able to fully enjoy such an avant-garde style. At the same time, it's a film that I'll think about forever, and that's something I highly value in movies. The film is more intelligent, and has more substance, than all but a handful that I've ever seen. Its a major achievement in film, deserves to be called a masterpiece, and should be required viewing for anyone who takes film the slightest bit seriously. Yet, it's something I doubt I'll ever watch again. It isn't entertainment, and really, isn't designed to be.

Did I cheat there? Yes! The film is a total mindfuck and I didn't know what to say. Mind you, I don't think it's as difficult as Darthyoshi makes it out to be. There are several interpretations and you choose one. Or none. Or all. The movie isn't designed to make "sense". I do regret my tease post in the Last Movie you Watched thread though. I thought I'd type something wonderful about the movie afterwards but I just couldn't. Ultimately you guys already said what I wanted to and did it far better then I ever could.


Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:21 pm
Post Re: 40 Persona
Nothing quite like the pine-fresh scent of plagiarism... ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Rather than respond any more to ed's post I'll offer the following tidbit of my life... in the spirit of Persona, of course.

So my wife says "We should get a pet!" and I immediately thought "No!" And then I said: "No!" and it went on like this for about 13, maybe 14, seconds before I said I'd take a look at some dogs n' crap on the internet... a little research. As I'm allergic to cats, the mammal's answer to the pit viiper, we're basically stuck with dogs. Unless... unless, of course, we go the exotic hipster route and purchase something you don't normally see in a thriving suburban landscape. The Exotic Pet comes in many forms but most of them are fairly off-putting: pigs are pigs, snakes are difficult to negotiate with, and the wombat eventually grows up to consume virtually everything in its path.

But then I found some information on pet wallabys. Think of that! A miniature kangaroo bouncing around your house, leaping here and there and everywhere and eventually boxing a neighbor's cat. Neat! And they're exotic! Do you know how much a pet wallaby costs?!!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!!? $2000 and up. And you've got to bottle feed them in order to create a bond... this is all well and good for people that have the time to nourish a little spring-loaded marsupial but what are we working-types to do with this pouched rat with hydraulics? And so the dream must die.

Chocolate labrador is what it looks like for us. Sure, it's a dog like any other. Kind of a let-down in a non let-downy kind of way. I really wanted that wallaby.


Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:53 pm
Post Re: 40 Persona
You two have the funniest ways of making me want to see certain movies.


Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:14 am
Post Re: 40 Persona
majoraphasia wrote:
Nothing quite like the pine-fresh scent of plagiarism... ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Rather than respond any more to ed's post I'll offer the following tidbit of my life... in the spirit of Persona, of course.

So my wife says "We should get a pet!" and I immediately thought "No!" And then I said: "No!" and it went on like this for about 13, maybe 14, seconds before I said I'd take a look at some dogs n' crap on the internet... a little research. As I'm allergic to cats, the mammal's answer to the pit viiper, we're basically stuck with dogs. Unless... unless, of course, we go the exotic hipster route and purchase something you don't normally see in a thriving suburban landscape. The Exotic Pet comes in many forms but most of them are fairly off-putting: pigs are pigs, snakes are difficult to negotiate with, and the wombat eventually grows up to consume virtually everything in its path.

But then I found some information on pet wallabys. Think of that! A miniature kangaroo bouncing around your house, leaping here and there and everywhere and eventually boxing a neighbor's cat. Neat! And they're exotic! Do you know how much a pet wallaby costs?!!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!!? $2000 and up. And you've got to bottle feed them in order to create a bond... this is all well and good for people that have the time to nourish a little spring-loaded marsupial but what are we working-types to do with this pouched rat with hydraulics? And so the dream must die.

Chocolate labrador is what it looks like for us. Sure, it's a dog like any other. Kind of a let-down in a non let-downy kind of way. I really wanted that wallaby.


Hey! It's not plagiarism when you credit your sources. Which I did. Kinda.

Your post's connection to Persona is kind of creepy though. "My Chocolate labrador" is what I affectionately call Liv Ullmann. I don't know how you'd know that. Unless...have you been Persona-ing me while I'm sleeping?

ram1312 wrote:
You two have the funniest ways of making me want to see certain movies.


I know, right? Major and Pete write all flowery and shit.


Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:41 am
Post Re: 40 Persona
I'd like to chime in and say I really enjoyed Persona for what it is, bearing in mind that what it is is nothing remotely tangible. It's been over a year since I've seen it, but I still remember bits and parts of it like I saw it yesterday. Perhaps the most notable scene is when Bibi Andersson is making that utterly heartbreaking confession. It's not just the content of the monologue or even the performance by Bibi (both are fantastic, btw), but her head cast against the soulless black background with the refusal to cut to Ullmann or move the camera like a "real movie". Bergman gets it, man.


Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:08 pm
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