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A projector begins screening a series of images, including a crucifixion , a spider and the killing of a lamb, and a boy wakes up in a hospital or morgue. He sees a large screen with a blurry image of two women. One of the women may be Alma, a young nurse assigned by a doctor to care for Elisabet Vogler. Elisabet is a stage actress who has suddenly stopped speaking and moving, which the doctors have determined is the result of willpower rather than physical or mental illness. In the hospital, Elisabet is distressed by television images of a man's self-immolation during the Vietnam War. Alma reads her a letter from Elisabet's husband that contains a photo of their son, and the actress tears the photograph up. The doctor speculates that Elisabet may recover better in a cottage by the sea, and sends her there with Alma.
At the cottage, Alma tells Elisabet that no one has ever really listened to her before. Alma tells a story of how, while she was already in a relationship with Karl-Henrik, she sunbathed in the nude with Katarina, a woman she had just met. Two young boys appeared, and Katarina initiated an orgy. Alma became pregnant, had an abortion and continues to feel guilty. Alma drives to town to mail their letters, and notices that Elisabet's is not sealed. She reads it. The letter says that Elisabet is "studying" Alma and mentions the nurse's orgy and abortion. Furious, Alma accuses Elisabet of using her for some purpose. In the resulting fight, she threatens to scald Elisabet with boiling water and stops when Elisabet begs her not to.
This is the first time Alma is certain the actress has spoken since they met, though she thought Elisabet previously whispered to her when Alma was half-asleep. Alma tells her that she knows Elisabet is a terrible person; when Elisabet runs off, Alma chases her and begs for forgiveness. One night, Alma hears a man outside calling for Elisabet; it is Elisabet's husband. He calls Alma "Elisabet" and, though the nurse tells him he is mistaken, they have sex.
Alma meets with Elisabet to talk about why Elisabet tore up the photo of her son. Alma tells much of Elisabet's story: that she wanted the only thing she did not have, motherhood, and became pregnant. Regretting her decision, Elisabet attempted a failed self-induced abortion and gave birth to a boy whom she despises, but her son craves her love. Alma ends the story in distress, asserting her identity and denying that she is Elisabet. She later coaxes Elisabet to say the word "nothing", and leaves the cottage as a crew films her. According to Bergman, the story had its roots in a chance encounter with past collaborator Bibi Andersson [n 3] in a Stockholm street.
Andersson, who was with Liv Ullmann, introduced Ullmann to him. This inspired the beginning of his story, a vision of two women "wearing big hats and laying their hands alongside each other". Bergman had been in a romantic relationship with Andersson and was attracted to Ullmann; of Persona ' s conception, Andersson said, "He saw our friendship, and he wanted to get Bergman wrote Persona in nine weeks while recovering from pneumonia,  and much of his work was done in the Sophiahemmet hospital. Alma remains on the island and plans to write Elisabet a letter until she sees the Holocaust photo and abandons her plan.
Bergman appealed to filmmaker Kenne Fant for funding for the project. Supportive, Fant asked about the film's concept and Bergman shared his vision of women comparing hands. Fant assumed that the film would be inexpensive, and agreed to fund it. And that in these two instances when working in total freedom, I touched wordless secrets that only the cinema can discover.
If I had not found the strength to make that film, I would probably have been all washed up. One significant point: for the first time I did not care in the least whether the result would be a commercial success". Bergman had planned to cast Andersson and Ullmann in The Cannibals , a large project he abandoned after becoming ill, but he still hoped to pair them in a project. That made me the one he wanted to work with Andersson said that she and Ullmann agreed to play their parts as different sides of the same personality, and they assumed that personality was Bergman's.
The actress said that they tried to balance each other in their performances. Although the scene where Alma describes her orgy was in the screenplay, Andersson said in that Bergman had been advised to remove it from the film. She insisted that it be shot, volunteering to alter dialogue she felt was too obviously written by a man. For the scene in which Andersson and Ullmann meet in the bedroom at night and their faces overlap, a large amount of smoke was used in the studio to make a blurrier shot.
Bergman used a mirror to compose the shots. The screenplay called for a "close-up of Alma with a strange resemblance to Elisabet". The actresses were unaware of the effect until a screening in the Moviola. According to Ullmann, the scene where Alma describes Elisabet's motherhood was filmed with two cameras, one filming each actress, and shots of each were intended to be mixed in editing. Then Bergman decided that each angle communicated something important and used both in their entirety, one after the other.
Bergman was unhappy with the sound in the scene where Alma describes the orgy, so he told Andersson to reread the scene, which she did in a lower voice. It was recorded and dubbed in. The score , by Lars Johan Werle , uses four cellos, three violins and other instruments. Werle described his effort to meet Bergman's requests without a description of the scenes Werle would score:. Then he came with vague hints about how the films would look, but I understood him anyway and he gave me some keywords I was a little surprised to be part of an artistic work that I had so little time to digest One wonders how it is even possible that one could only see the movie once or twice and then compose the music.
Persona has been subject to a variety of interpretations. According to Professor Thomas Elsaesser , the film "has been for film critics and scholars what climbing Everest is for mountaineers: the ultimate professional challenge. Besides Citizen Kane , it is probably the most written-about film in the canon". Critic Peter Cowie wrote, "Everything one says about Persona may be contradicted; the opposite will also be true". Academic Frank Gado called Cowie's assessment "patent nonsense", but agreed there was "critical disarray"; editor Lloyd Michaels said that although Cowie exaggerated somewhat, he welcomed the "critical licence" to study the film.
Michaels summarized what he calls "the most widely held view" of Persona :  that it is "a kind of modernist horror movie". Bergman said that although he had an idea of what the story meant, he would not share it because he felt that his audience should draw its own conclusions. He hoped the film would be felt rather than understood. The "silence of God" is a theme Bergman explored extensively in his previous work. According to author Paul Coates, Persona was the "aftermath" of that exploration.
Analysis has focused on the characters' resemblance, demonstrated in shots of overlapping faces in which one face is visible and part of another is seen behind it, suggesting the possibility that the characters are one,  and their duality. Hyde instead of his benign alter ego, Dr. Singer wrote that Bergman expanded on Stevenson's exploration of duality, the " good and evil , light and dark aspects of our nature", depicting it as "oneness" in the shot.
Gado saw Persona as a "double-threaded process of discovery involving motherhood". The nurse realizes that she has done what Elisabet tried and failed to do: erase a child from her life by abortion. Young compared Bergman's relationship with his mother, Karin, to Alma "hungry for someone to listen to her and to love her" and Elisabet "ravenous for precious time". About the theme of duality, author Birgitta Steene wrote that Alma represents the soul and Elisabet a "stern" goddess.
Persona 's title reflects the Latin word for "mask" and Carl Jung 's theory of persona , an external identity separate from the soul " alma ". Bergman agreed, saying that Jung's theory "fits well in this case". Alma's secret is revealed in her orgy monologue, and critic Robin Wood related it to a combination of shame and nostalgia perhaps indicating the character's sexual liberation. According to Wood, the incident touched on unfaithfulness and juvenile sexuality ;  in Swedish, the young boys are called " pojkar " and are in need of coaching. Cinema historian P. Adams Sitney summarized the story as following the course of psychoanalysis : a referral, followed by the first interview, disclosures and the discovery of the patient's root problem.
Another possible reference to psychology is that when Elisabet falls mute, the play she is in is Electra by Sophocles or Euripides. By depicting this tension as experienced primarily by women, Bergman may be said to "problematize the position of woman as other"; the role society assigns women is "essentially foreign to their subjecthood". The theme of merging and doubling surfaces early in the film, when Alma says that she saw one of Elisabet's films and was struck by the thought that they were alike.
Analysts have noted possible lesbian under-  and overtones. Foster believed that Elisabet's gaze presents Alma with questions about her engagement to Karl-Henrik. Persona is the Latin word for "mask" and referred to a mouthpiece actors wore to increase the audibility of their lines. In Greek drama, persona came to mean a character, separate from an actor. Elisabet is a stage actress and, according to Singer, is seen in "mask-like makeup" suggesting a "theatrical persona". Singer wrote that Elisabet wears "thick and artificial eyelashes" even when she is not acting. According to Singer, Bergman confronts his viewers with "the nature of his art form".
Although Alma initially believes that artists "created out of compassion, out of a need to help", she sees Elisabet laugh at performances on a radio program and finds herself the subject of the actress's study. She rejects her earlier belief: "How stupid of me". Michaels wrote that Bergman and Elisabet share a dilemma: they cannot respond authentically to "large catastrophes", such as the Holocaust or the Vietnam War. Persona also includes symbolism about vampirism. Although psychologist Daniel Shaw interpreted Elisabet as a vampire and Alma as her "sacrificial lamb",  Bergman replied when asked if Alma was entirely consumed:.
No, she has just provided some blood and meat, and some good steak. Then she can go on. You must know, Elizabeth is intelligent, she's sensible, she has emotions, she is immoral, she is a gifted woman, but she's a monster, because she has an emptiness in her. Persona has been called an experimental film. The BFI called Persona "stylistically radical", noting its use of close-ups. He summarized the blankness before a projector runs, leading to clips of classic animation, a comedic silent film , crucifixion and a penis, concluding that it summarized cinema. Scenes creating a "strange" or "eerie" effect include Elisabet entering Alma's room, where it is uncertain if she is sleepwalking or Alma is having a dream, and Mr.
Vogler having sex with Alma; it is uncertain if he mistook her for Elisabet. Biographer Jerry Vermilye wrote that despite experimenting with colour in 's All These Women , Persona represented Bergman and Nykvist's return to the "stark black-and-white austerity of earlier chamber pieces". According to Vineberg, Ullmann and Andersson's acting styles are dictated by the fact that Andersson does nearly all the talking.
She delivers monologues , and Ullmann is a "naturalistic mime ". Everything is there". Music and other sounds also define Bergman's style. This includes the prologue, with a "discordant" score accompanied by dripping and a ringing telephone. Persona was released on 31 August , and its promotional premiere took place on 18 October at the Spegeln cinema in Stockholm.
Combined with the institute's earlier production grant, the project received 1,, kr from the SFI. It opened in the U. The marketing quoted critics, particularly about Alma's erotic monologue. Two scenes censored from the U. The film was released to favorable reviews in the Swedish and U. In Sweden, Dagens Nyheter critic Olaf Lagercrantz said that a cult following of Swedish critics had developed by October and coined the name Person a kult for them. Crowther wrote that its "interpretation is tough", and "Miss Ullmann and Miss Andersson just about carry the film—and exquisitely, too".
Essayists and critics have called Persona one of the 20th century's major artistic works, and Bergman's masterpiece. Reviewing Persona 's home video, Richard Brody credited Bergman for a work that shed realism with special effects and conveyed "a tactile visual intimacy", and praised the film's island setting. Persona won the Best Film award at the 4th Guldbagge Awards. Some of Bergman's later films, such as Shame and The Passion of Anna , have similar themes of the "artist as fugitive", guilt and self-hatred.
David Lynch 's film Mulholland Drive deals with similar themes of identity and has two female characters whose identities appear to merge. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. AB Svensk Filmindustri. Release date. Running time. Bach's Violin Concerto in E major. Mostly when they're sick and I can help them. I'll marry and have children. I believe that is what life has in store for me in this world". The words become meaningless, running and jumping, finally vanishing altogether". Before the director's death in , Ullmann starred in 11 of his works and became known as his muse. Everyone's face has a better and a worse side, and the picture is a combination of Bibi's and Liv's less attractive sides. At first they were so scared they didn't even recognize their own faces.
What they should have said was: 'What the hell have you done with my face? They didn't recognize their own faces. I find that rather an odd reaction". Alongside Persona , Through a Glass Darkly provides another exception to this usage. Post , 'Bergman proves that a fully clothed woman telling of a sexual experience can make all the nudities and perversions that his compatriots have been splattering on the screen lately seem like nursery school sensualities' World Journal Tribune ". Persona has a central moment of violence in which the film seems to break and the story must begin again, and Pinky's dive into the pool works in the same way". Berlin Film Journal.
Archived from the original on 7 October Retrieved 6 October The Independent. Archived from the original on 6 October Retrieved 5 October Archived from the original on 12 October Retrieved 11 October The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 20 November Retrieved 19 November University of Michigan. Archived from the original on 28 June Retrieved 7 October The Chicago Tribune.
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The Corinthian. Archived from the original on 24 August Senses of Cinema. Archived from the original on 6 June The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 22 December Archived from the original on 7 August Retrieved 6 December Archived from the original on 19 June Postmedia Network. Archived from the original on 29 September Retrieved 12 October Berlin International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 28 September Eloise reveals that once she falls asleep, she is transported back to the s in London, where her visions primarily follow the drama surrounding Sandie.
The trailer shows that Sandie and Jack were singers in a romantic relationship back in , whereafter he revealed his abusive personality, eventually murdering her in the same room that Eloise now lives in. In the present day, Eloise even reports the murder to the police after having seen it in her dream. Eloise apparently wants to go back into the past to stop Jack from killing Sandie, whether that means going into her body or trying to break through the figurative and literal fourth wall and help Sandie avoid the situation. One snippet from the Last Night in Soho trailer even shows Eloise breaking through a glass wall to seemingly protect Sandie, suggesting she defies the supernatural laws of being an observer and places herself as a person in the past, disrupting the time-space continuum.
She graduated from the University of Oregon in with a B.