Great movie classics: “Persona”, by Igmar Bermang

This masterpiece was directed by one of the world’s greatest filmmakers, Ingmar Bergman. Its premiere was in 1966 and starred its two muses who have made many of his films: Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann.

The first embodies a nurse who tries to create a bond so that the character played by Liv Ullmann can regain speech after having voluntarily decided to keep quiet through her last theatrical performance.

The title refers to the theater masks in ancient Greece, where the face of said mask represents a point or character; while behind another face hides that has been the other face.

It is the social masquerade that we often represent where each person has a different face in different situations in our lives.

The movie begins in a very special way. It shows us when a film projector is turned on and then disjointed images appear, throwing us into the development of the plot a complex issue.

Elizabeth Vogler (Liv Ullmann) She is a renowned theater actress who decides to remain mute and is admitted to a hospital where they do all kinds of tests, concluding that she is completely healthy biologically.

In the hospital room, Elizabeth observes on television, images of the Vietnam War, a monk committing a bonzo-style suicide, and in the image appears that deep unease of horror and the cruelty of life. One may wonder: is it the fear of life?

To get her out of her voluntary silence, they send her a nurse named Alma (Bibi Andersson) and both go to a house near the beach, so that in complete solitude, the nurse can break Elizabeth’s silence.

Here a relationship will be established where the nurse recounts her life to the actress resulting in a symbiosis. Over time the feelings work as if the two were one.

Elizabeth without saying a word turns out to be stronger than Alma; so there is a kind of vampirism of the personality. Alma tells of her entire intimate life and beyond; because she feels familiar with Elizabeth, because she admires her as an actress and projects into her the “Ideal Self” that constitutes that model of being collectively accepted. That is why Elizabeth is absorbing Alma’s personality.

In Jaume Cardona’s writing on his virtual page called cinema and psychology, he expresses the following to us about this process of vampirization: “This consideration of the other as part of oneself is what makes Alma susceptible to being vampirized. Her need for Elizabeth, her need to recognize herself through the other, make her dependent on it, and her denial silence plunges her into the abyss of loss of identity. In a way, Elizabeth’s silence is the abyss of La Cosa Lacaniana, getting lost in her afterlife.

After Elizabeth’s rejection, Alma enters a strange world where reality and fantasy are difficult to discern. Where it is difficult to recognize if what happens, happens in reality or in Alma’s fantasy; although, and as Jung would say, they finally constitute his psychological reality. “

Under this scheme Alma is confused and adopts the role of Elizabeth at times, and is part of the masquerade about various positions that we often take in our lives before society. Bergman, as a good connoisseur of the human psyche, captures it in his films where he deepens the Self.

The film ends when Alma tries her best to rebuild her life and returns to her everyday world and rejects Elizabeth as the other Self. Then the images reappear as the beginning until the projector is turned off.

“Persona” is a complex film, worthy of analysis on the problem of personal identity; but above all, it is a singular work. Just as the title is singular, where through cinematographic language, Bergman speaks to us and expresses his concerns. True gem of world cinematography.

+ Curiosities

1) The term person comes from the classical Greek theater “per” “sona” is the actor’s mask through which his voice reaches us.

2) Bergman wrote the script when he spent a long convalescence in a hospital due to stress.

3) Ingmar Bergman had reached the climax of his inspiration. This was what he had stated in 1990 when his book entitled “Images” was published, where he expressed the following: “I have the feeling that in person I have reached the limit of my possibilities. That in full freedom, I have touched those secrets without words that only cinematography is capable of bringing to light ”.

4) It is considered one of the best films in history where we are fully immersed in the issue of identity and recognition through the other.