- Actors: Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Margaretha Krook, Gunnar Björnstrand, Jörgen Lindström
- Directors: Ingmar Bergman
- Writers: Ingmar Bergman
- Producers: Ingmar Bergman
- Format: PAL, Black & White, Subtitled, Dolby, Digital Sound
- Language: Swedish
- Subtitles: English
- Region: All Regions
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.37:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Classification: 15
- Studio: Tartan
- DVD Release Date: 28 April 2003
- Run Time: 80 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B00008OP6Y
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 62,810 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
Persona  [DVD]
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Study of womanhood and identity, featuring two of Ingmar Bergman's greatest leading ladies, Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson. Elizabeth (Ullmann) is a famous actress who is taken ill and left without speech. While convalescing on the coast, she is cared for by Nurse Alma (Andersson) and, silenced by the effect of her - possibly psychosomatic - illness, finds that her nurse does the talking for both of them. Gradually, the two women's personalities merge and the boundaries between their identities begin to blur.
Made in 1966, Persona is among Ingmar Bergman's greatest, most vital movies, made during a difficult period in his life (Bergman's life is one short on easy times), having been hospitalised following a viral infection. It was while laid up that he conceived the notion of Persona, in which a famous actress, Elisabet (Liv Ullmann) suddenly lapses into a muteness from which, though mentally and physically healthy, she refuses to emerge. She is attended to by a young, naive nurse, Alma (Bibi Andersson) who develops an obsession, bordering on infatuation with her silent charge. She finds herself jabbering all of her innermost secrets to her and, little by little, through dream sequences, repeated dialogue and trick photography, it's as if the consciousnesses of the two women have actually merged.
With its opening sequence of cryptic projected reel images (allusions to Bergman's previous work), jarringly atonal soundtrack and devices such as the audible chatter of camera crew, Persona contains an unusual share of avant-garde trimmings, which haven't necessarily stood the test of time. However, the relationship between Alma and Elisabet dominates the movie. Some confounded critics wondered if theirs was a lesbian relationship.
Actually, Persona is an occasionally cryptic but overwhelmingly powerful meditation on the parasitic interaction between Art and Life, the way the former feeds off the latter (Alma is distraught to discover a letter at one point which suggests Elisabet has been coolly observing her, as if for material). However, as an early scene featuring TV footage of a Vietnamese Buddhist monk torching himself as a protest against the war, it's also about the helpless incapacity of art to "say" anything in the face of grim reality. A small film budget-wise, but a colossal event in world cinema. --David Stubbs
Top Customer Reviews
because most of the Bergman I saw first were from late in his career
and far more 'naturalistic' - 'Fanny and Alexander', 'Autumn Sonata',
'Scenes From a Marriage' etc. I don't think I understood that for much
of his great career he was as much an experimentalist (at times) as
David Lynch, or Fellini, or Kubrick or Godard. Now that I understand
that, it's easier for me to get excited by the earlier experimental
Also, with 'Persona' the experiment seems more subtle and complex than
in some of Bergman's other early work. The themes are right out in the
open but there's much less literalness in the questions. The whole FILM
is a series of questions, but posed in a poetic way - what is identity?
What is acting? What is film? What are the boundaries between people?
What is reality and what is a dream, both in this film, and in our own
This is a haunting deeply disturbing work, and part of it's very
effectiveness is it's 'unexplainability', ala '2001' or a Magritte
painting. Like a Koan, it forces you to try and make sense of something
that has no simple answer.
On first viewing there were a few times when things felt a little on
the nose, or my feeling of 'huh?' was the bad kind, not the good one.
But this is a fascinating film, that combines some of the most truly
dreamlike sequences I've ever seen with what seems a conventional
narrative, only to curve in on itself into obscurity yet again. It is
ultimately the kind of puzzle that art does best - it makes you ponder
things both consciously and subconsciously at the same time.Read more ›
The DVD has the common structure of the Bergman collection, but the Film Notes in this case are most illuminating and welcome.
Although this is a film for those interested in the work of Bergman, it also provides an interesting revelation of how an individual responds to a constant silence from their charge. The literature of negotiation tactics points to the power of silence to make an opponent uncomfortable and at the same time to seek confirmation of their position. Persona takes this to the extreme, where the nurse finds herself chattering away incessantly, whilst revealing ever deeper secrets about herself. She is as much revealing these to herself as to her charge Elisabet. Yet if you watch the film ask yourself who is really doing the revealing.
Well worth watching - it is understandable why this film stunned the critics at the time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The film is a classic - a 20 century icon - there was no indication that it was dubbed into Italian and you couldn't get rid of it. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Paul
I can not praise this film enough. ThIs the reason I consider Bergman one of the deepest filmmakers ever. Read morePublished 14 months ago by jack the tripper
One of the most difficult films made by Bergman. You have to view it many times before you get the meaning of it (or you think you get the meaning of it).Published on 21 May 2015 by ipjackie
All you can say its one of the best films of his collections .Published on 6 May 2015 by paul geldart
This and 'The Silence' are my favourite Bergman movies. It is angst ridden, complicated, sublimely crafted and a visual delight.Published on 9 April 2015 by LeBrit
This film is astonishing in every way.
The beauty of certain scenes resonates with what is human in us, and the ideas explored help us to understand what being a human... Read more