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Ingmar Bergman's Persona (Cambridge Film Handbooks) Hardcover – 13 Sep 1999

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (13 Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521651751
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521651752
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.9 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,264,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Book Description

Among Ingmar Bergman's many works, Persona is often considered to be his masterpiece and is often described as one of the central works of Modernism. The essays collected in this volume use a variety of methodologies to explore topics such as acting technique, genre, and dramaturgy.

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First Sentence
Throughout his creative life Ingmar Bergman has acknowledged his cultural roots in Swedish literature, theater, and film. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bruceboy on 30 April 2001
Format: Paperback
At last - a book bringing together important articles (many previously unpublished) on a key film of the century... 'Persona' is hardly a picnic and the ideas in this book are hardly Noddy, but they're refreshingly easily expressed and avoid the dogmatism that makes most film criticism unpalatable. The book aims to make the 1960's movie accessible or at least decipherable to a new generation of scholars and enthusiasts, putting it in the light of recent interests like feminism, without taking it out of its Swedish and international context. Okay - so it's a bit obscure in parts, but you wouldn't be reasding this if you weren't already intrigued, right? It's not gonna win any new converts, but I don't really think it's trying to.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Short, and not everything here is helpful, but it did expand my appreciation of the film 17 Aug. 2012
By Christopher Culver - Published on
Format: Paperback
Depicting the mysterious relationship between an actress who has stopped speaking and the nurse assigned to care for her, Ingmar Bergman's 1966 film PERSONA is widely regarded as a masterpiece. In this collection edited by Lloyd Michaels, part of the Cambride Film Handbooks series, seven scholars offer their examinations of various aspects of the Swedish director's work.

After Michaels' introduction, Birgitta Steene, regarded as the foremost authority on Bergman, contributes a chapter on the inspiration that PERSONA draws from the plays of August Stringberg (especially "The Stronger" and "A Dreamplay"), which Bergman had known for decades and directed in the theatre. Then, this volume reprints Susan Sontag's classic 1969 essay on PERSONA. This is thought-provoking and Sontag brushes aside many of the facile readings by contemporary critics (and still by many viewers today).

Wheeler Winston Dixon's "Persona and the Art Cinema" describes the context in which Bergman's film was shown in theatres, though. He lists the innovative films of the early 1960s and notes how in PERSONA Bergman, though of an older generation, reinvented his art through the inspiration of the New Wave. Steven Vineberg's essay "Persona and the Seduction of Persona" discusses what the performances of actresses Ulmann and Andersson brought to the film.

Two of the essays represent Marxist and lesbian feminist interpretations of PERSONA, and I find these of little appeal. Christopher Orr's "Scenes from the class struggle in Sweden" claims that the relationship between Alma and Elizabet is necessarily political, as the two belong to different social classes. While he makes some good points, especially in highlighting Brechtian "distancing" techniques in the film, some of his quasi-Marxist assertions on the social relationship that the two women supposedly have seem very reaching.

While Orr had only hinted it, Gwendolyn Audrey Foster goes further in her "Feminist Theory and the Performance of Lesbian Desire" and says outright that she isn't concerned with what the auteur created, but how her chosen viewer interprets it. Well, I came to this collection searching for insights on Bergman's work, so this was useless to me.

As an appendix the book reprints 1967 reviews (some positive, some negative) by Brendan Gill, Pauline Kael and P.D.Z. (an anonymous reviewer for Newsweek). The book also includes a Bergman filmography and a bibliography of books on Bergman in general, but this all feels like padding.

I found this entry in the Cambridge Film Handbooks series worthwhile in that it gave me some new perspectives on what is one of my favourite films. However, with the two overtly ideological essays and the fact that the slim book is obviously padded out, it is hard to recommend it too highly.
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