Friday, July 18, 2014


Persona is a 1966 Ingmar Bergman film starring Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann. Perhaps a horror film, but definitely a psychological drama. The characters are intriguing, and that's a good thing since character is what you get here. The IMDB synopsis: "A nurse is put in charge of an actress who can't talk and finds that the actress's persona is melding with hers."
"Don't you think I understand? The hopeless dream of being. Not seeming, but being."
It's available to watch online at Youtube.


The book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die includes it. Empire includes it on their list of 100 Best Films Of World Cinema and says it's "visually stunning, intellectually challenging and emotionally wrenching". TimeOut concludes, "Not an easy film, but an infinitely rewarding one". MOMA writes,
In many ways, Bergman is questioning the medium itself, to which he devoted his life (in spite of forays into opera and theater). How much truth or reality can the camera show? How much can an artist reveal? And the question always with Bergman: how much “universal pain,” as Robin Wood puts it, can the audience stand and understand?
DVD Talk calls it "perhaps Ingmar Bergman's most abstract picture". Roger Ebert has it on his Great Movies list and says, ""Persona" (1966) is a film we return to over the years, for the beauty of its images and because we hope to understand its mysteries. It is apparently not a difficult film: ... I think I understand that the best approach to "Persona" is a literal one." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 92%.


  1. I saw this in my early thirties, when I was still struggling with what to take on in life, when all possibilities were still open. Liv Ullman´s character, to me, said that if you try to be all things to everyone, if you try to be "perfect", it can come at a heavy price, and not only to yourself. Bergman was - as I see him - very sensitive to issues pertaining to social pressure and conformity.

    What did you think?

    1. I agree. I see his films as explorations of emotional responses to family (or relationship) trauma. Expectations within families and relationships bring up a lot of questions about who we are and who we want to be. Expect for Wild Strawberries, maybe, which I remember as being more of a reminiscence of relationship over time. A life reviewed, maybe.

    2. *except* for Wild Strawberries... I wish there was an "edit post" option :/

    3. When I was in the US, I stayed with a minister and his family and they talked a lot about Preacher´s Kid-syndrom, which was, I think, about rebelling. Bergman was also a preacher´s kid and he has a lot of ministers in his films, both lost ones and vicious ones. I think he really knew how to mine his own experiences.

    4. There's a despair in his preachers. I remember the minister in Winter Light. Such a tragic figure.