Thursday, August 04, 2005

"Persona" by Ingmar Bergman

Here we shall enter the cathedral of "Religion of Bergman" and be bathed in the timeless sheen of "Persona", whose images, dramaturgy, and messages are surprisingly contemporary. The movie's art direction is minimalist, clean, and well coordinated with the stunning black-and-white photography designed by the famed cinematographer, Sven Nykvist. I'll bet one-month Netflix subscription fee that if "Persona" were to be shown to a, say, high school film class composed of cinema newbies, the majority of them would not guess that the picture was made almost 40 years ago.

Liv Ullmann plays a well-known actress stricken with sudden mental paralysis which shuts down her verbal capability. Bibi Andersson is the nurse assigned to take care of her. Since Liv Ullmann's character is mute throughout the movie, Bibi Andersson yaks away her own relationship woes. The interplay between these two Scandinavian screen legends is fascinating to watch, as Bibi Andersson begins to take on Liv Ullmann's persona, thus the titled theme of the movie.

Many reviewers of this picture like to point out its "difficult" experimental nature, but I, for one, do not regard the somewhat abstract imagery as overwhelming or intrusive. Bergman did not just direct a "filmed drama"; he framed and photographed his actors with the most inventive angles. Yes, many of those shots have been imitated to death by less-equipped directors, but only in "Persona" do they look authentic.

Trivia: Liv Ullmann was born in Tokyo, Japan. Her father was a Norwegian engineer who had traveled all over the world.

No comments:

Blog Archive