I Saw A Film!

And I didn’t realize what I was getting into. I’ve been a Bergman fan since seeing the Seventh Seal but I’m not a film scholar and I don’t generally spend much time reading actual criticism of the great film makers. I’ve never had a film course. I’ve never really studied art officially in any manner besides a bit of art history in my undergrad. So when I pulled this up, expecting something like Strawberries or The Silence, but I was wrong. This one is more like Fight Club.

The film is stark and shot in pore-defining black and white. There’s never anything on the walls. And we’re started off with some shocking images of crucifixion and lamb slaughter. This part feels very indulgent and really seems to have little to do with the rest of the film which as far as I can tell seems to be about a nurse who is tasked with treating a wealthy actress at a seaside house for what appears to be her disconnection from communication and family attachment. In time however the two seem to more and more become one, and we’re given a heavy-handed overlapped shot of the two ladies’ faces to sort of ram home that idea. Early on the nurse thinks she looks like the actress Elizbet and jokes about becoming her, and that as an actress Elizbet could easily be her, Alma. The ladies are both lanky, big-footed, and lovely in a weary way.

The turning point seems to arrive when a letter Elizbet writes to the doctor indicates that she’s amused and studying Alma, who the whole time thought she was studying the actress. It also rather callously offers up private sexual stories that Alma confided in Elizbet. This seems to indicate that Alma is actually more the patient in Elizbet’s mind . . . or maybe Elizbet isn’t real at all. We’ll never know. No one knows.

The ladies fight a bunch and run about on a beach. At one point Alma allows Elizbet to step on a glass shard in retaliation. Lots of questions remain. Why is the boy a problem for the actress. Why does she tear up a picture. Why when the husband visits does Elizbet move Alma’s hand to his face. Ah, suddenly we’re more directly being told there really is no Elizbet. And on and on. In the end we’re reminded of the movie making going on in a very Godard sort of way and we rub our chins. Hmmm.

This costs you a bit on Prime about 4 bucks. Be prepared for a bunch of shock imagery. It’s not a great date film.

HyperFocal: 0

One thought on “Persona (1966)

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