Newest Reviews
Invisible Man, The
Honey Boy
System Crasher
Judy & Punch
Battling Butler
Seven Chances
Dogs Don't Wear Pants
Navigator, The
Knives Out
Charlie's Angels
Passport to Shame
Le Mans '66
Keep Fit
Doctor Sleep
Friend or Foe
Brass Target
Mine and the Minotaur, The
Sky Pirates
Sea Children, The
Ghost of a Chance, A
Go Kart Go
Great Buster, The
Seventy Deadly Pills
Wings of Mystery
Treasure at the Mill
Crime Wave
Terminator: Dark Fate
Antonio Gaudi
Oscar, The
Color Out of Space
Last Holiday
Zombieland: Double Tap
Mind Benders, The
Mighty Wind, A
Newest Articles
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
  Persona If You Were Me And I Was You
Year: 1966
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Liv Ullman, Bibi Andersson, Margaretha Krook, Gunnar Björnstrand
Genre: Drama, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: Nurse Alma (Bibi Andersson) has been called to the office of her superior with a new case to take care of. Alma prides herself on her medical professionalism, but when she hears about this woman she must look after, she can't help but wonder if she is the right person for the job, and maybe a more experienced nurse would be a better choice. The woman is Elisabeth Vogler (Liv Ullman), who is a famous actress suffering some kind of breakdown that leaves her mute: she was onstage performing in Electra before a packed house when she dried for over a minute, and this incident has triggered her troubles...

There are many who see Ingmar Bergman's Persona as a challenge, as if of all films this was the Everest to climb to discover its meaning at the summit, knowing that there are a great number who have tried to scale its cliffs and failed. No wonder it seemed such a daunting prospect back when it was first released, and it was a badge of courage to admit you had not only seen it, but had some idea of what it was about. Yet it was so vague in some ways and so specific in others that you could be forgiven for taking the whole thing as a confidence trick on the audience; not that Bergman was not sincere, but there was a definite games playing aspect to this.

Ask most who have seen it what Persona is about and they'll probably tell you it was depicting one woman's personality overhwelming another so they become all too similar, but even that begged the question whose personality was overwhelming whom. There's no doubt these questions of identity that the plot obsessively returns to have been influential, as it was all so original in its presentation and concepts that there are a plethora of filmmakers who picked up the ball and ran with it: you can see echoes of this in anything from Weekend through to Eraserhead (David Lynch's Mullholland Drive, too) to Single White Female to Fight Club and countless others. But was that influence beneficial?

Certainly Bergman was pushing at perceived boundaries, yet for many that simply rendered the work incomprehensible. That said, he didn't dawdle here, as the whole experience is over with in a tight eighty minutes or so, refreshing after decades of arthouse movies that tell you profundity is available to you at excessive length. Then there was the sexual element, as the film begins with a montage of imagery including an erect penis which looks like a joke, or it would if the mood were not so relentlessly downbeat. Even Alma's anecdote about her most powerful erotic experience is followed up with another, depressing one about her subsequent abortion and the guilt that resulted.

Ah, Alma, one of those people who cannot enjoy a silence without having to fill it, thereby giving Elisabeth the ammunition to stage a takeover bid on her personality. The more she chatters, the more the actress placidly listens, and the tone turns ominous as we wonder what she is going to do with all this information (share it in a letter, for example?). But Alma turns this lack of give and take into a battle when she deliberately by her inaction causes Elisabeth to cut her foot on a shard of broken glass, then turns violent when the pressure gets too much to bear. Really, you could take Persona as one of those tales where the hipster corrupts the square, only here it was not drugs or demeaning sex that are in the actress's arsenal, but the sheer hell of being alive and failing to communicate, the kind of breakdown between people (as opposed to within people) that sets off all sorts of horror. That said, no matter how powerful this film can be, you just have to look at the SCTV parody to ponder if it's not all a bit daft; you can't deny it's not weirdly provocative, however, even exhilarating.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 2179 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Ingmar Bergman  (1918 - 2007)

Undoubtedly one of the greatest artists of cinema, Ingmar Bergman was often accused of being too depressing as his subjects covered the existence (or otherwise) of God and deep-seated marital problems (he himself was married five times), but he always approached them with a sympathetic eye. Among his most memorable films were Summer with Monika, Smiles of a Summer Night, The Seventh Seal (with its unforgettable chess game with Death), Wild Strawberries, The Virgin Spring (the inspiration for Last House on the Left), Through a Glass Darkly, The Silence, Persona, Hour of the Wolf, Cries and Whispers, Scenes from a Marriage and Fanny and Alexander. He also made international stars of Max von Sydow, Liv Ullman and Bibi Andersson.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton


Last Updated: