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Persona [Celluloid Hero]

 

Persona (1966)

 

I tend to watch weird movies. There are times I just pick things up on a whim, or on a passing recommendation from some website or another review or a reference on a TV show. I honestly don’t remember what spurred me to watch “Persona”, but I’m glad I did.

Ingmar Bergman is a legendary director, and has influenced many of my favorites including Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick, and Martin Scorsese. His style, obviously, is very European, so it might not satisfy all tastes. There is a lot of focus on cinematography, and mostly revolves around characters and dialogue rather than action.

“Persona” left me very unsure after I watched it. We are taken into this strange world immediately: the first five minutes are just seemingly random images. We see film, old silent movies, cartoons, violent images, sexual images, and finally a child staring back at us, directly into the camera. I still can’t exactly figure out what Bergman was intending, and I think I like the confusion.

The actual movie is a tormenting psychological drama. An actress suffers a sort of nervous breakdown, and refuses to speak. Tests reveal no physical or mental illness, but a nurse is still assigned to care for her. They end up living together in beach house. The nurse ends up divulging intimate details about her life, feeling that the actress’s silence is an indication of her interest. Eventually the silence becomes deafening, and the nurse’s mind begins to crack. Things spiral out of control, becoming more and more creepy and bizarre.

One of the key elements I take into consideration when rating a movie is memorability. If a movie is able to stick with me for a long period after viewing, that is a sign of greatness. “Persona” had so many memorable moments, I don’t think I will be able to stop thinking about them for a long time.

 

On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, “Persona” gets an 8 out of 10.


[Each week, Varacchi explores cinema from his own perspective. From indie to foreign to mainstream, he'll watch it all. Suggestions and recommendations are welcome, leave a comment below. CLICK HERE for the Celluloid Hero archives]

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