director Ingmar Bergman
I really don’t know what I can bring to the table here about Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 masterpiece, Persona. It’s such a major film and so much writing has been done on it, from the time it was released 50 years ago until now. What fresh commentary do I have?
I don’t know. I’m also not sure why it has taken me so long to finally see the film.
Before I’d ever seen a Bergman film, I’d seen a parody of his work, the seriously hilarious The Dove (De Düva) (1968) by George Coe and Anthony Lover and featuring a very young Madeline Kahn. When I finally watched Bergman’s films, I managed to see the ones more directly parodied like The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), and The Virgin Spring (1960). The Virgin Spring blew my mind when I watched it.
But for some reason, I’d held off on Bergman for some time.
Persona is so different a film from those, seemingly much more influenced by Jean-Luc Godard of the time, but still so intensely emotional and delving, deeply psychological, a screeching catharsis.
I don’t know that it affected me as The Virgin Spring did years ago, but it is so complex and powerful, I think I’ll be sitting with it for a long time yet. I felt almost immediately the desire to watch it again. I don’t know that I will, but I’ve kept Bergman at arm’s length long enough, far too long.