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Cinema Talks > 2017 Autumn (Season 12)
Cine Club: Wednesday 25 October 2017
(Doors open at 6:15 - Event from 7:00 to 8:15 pm)

Title: Persona
Duration: 1 hour and 23 min
Language: Swedish (English Slides)
Director: Igmar Bergman (Sweden 1966)
Stars: Liv Ullman and Bibi Anderson


Persona is a 1966 Swedish psychological drama film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. Persona’s story revolves around a young nurse named Alma (Andersson) and her patient, a well-known stage actress named Elisabet Vogler (Ullmann), who has suddenly ceased to speak. The two move to a cottage, where Alma cares for and talks to Elisabet about intimate secrets, and begins having trouble distinguishing herself from Elisabet.

Bergman wrote the film with Ullmann and Andersson in mind for the lead parts, and some idea of exploring their identities, and shot the film in Stockholm and Fårö (the island he owns). Drawing on deep psychological elements, Persona has been the subject of a vast amount of analysis, interpretation and debate. Persona deals with themes of duality, insanity, and personal identity, as has been interpreted as a statement of Jungian theory of persona, cinema, vampire mythology, lesbianism, or motherhood and abortion. The experimental nature of its prologue and storytelling has also drawn comment.

Over and above the delicate psychological handling of the two characters, from a cinematographic point of view, the film is a masterpiece. Bergman introduces a variety of innovative devices and techniques (playing the same scene twice from different angles, confusing faces in various shots, flashing slides at the beginning of the film).

On its release, the film was subject to cuts because of its controversial subject matter but received positive reviews, with Swedish media using the term Personakult to describe its enthusiastic followers. It won the award for Best Film at the 4th Guldbagge Awards and was Sweden's entry for consideration for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Many critics consider it one of the greatest films ever made, and it influenced many later directors, such as Robert Altman and David Lynch.

Click Here for a YouTube Trailer
Click Here for an article by Roger Ebert
Click Here for an article in the New York Times
Click Here for an article in the Globe and Mail
Click Here for an article in Aesthetics of the Mind
Click Here for an article in Ingmar Bergman’s own site


Ingmar Bergman (from IMDB)
Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born July fourteenth, 1918, the son of a priest. The film and T.V. series, The Best Intentions (1992) is biographical and shows the early marriage of his parents. The film 'Söndagsbarn' depicts a bicycle journey with his father. In the miniseries Private Confessions (1996) is the trilogy closed. Here, as in 'Den Goda Viljan' Pernilla August play his mother. Note that all three movies are not always full true biographical stories. He began his career early with a puppet theatre which he, his sister and their friends played with. But he was the manager. Strictly professional he begun writing in 1941.

He had written a play called 'Kaspers död' (A.K.A. 'Kaspers Death') which was produced the same year. It became his entrance into the movie business as Stina Bergman (not a close relative), from the company S.F. (Swedish Filmindustry), had seen the play and thought that there must be some dramatic talent in young Ingmar. His first job was to save other more famous writers' poor scripts. Under one of that script-saving works he remembered that he had written a novel about his last year as a student. He took the novel, did the save-poor-script job first, then wrote a screenplay on his own novel. When he went back to S.F., he delivered two scripts rather than one. The script was Torment (1944) and was the fist Bergman screenplay that was put into film (by Alf Sjöberg).

It was also in that movie Bergman did his first professional film-director job. Because Alf Sjöberg was busy, Bergman got the order to shoot the last sequence of the film. Ingmar Bergman is the father of Daniel Bergman, director, and Mats Bergman, actor at the Swedish Royal Dramatic Theater. Ingmar Bergman was also C.E.O. of the same theatre between 1963-1966, where he hired almost every professional actor in Sweden. In 1976 he had a famous tax problem. Bergman had trusted other people to advise him on his finances, but it turned out to be very bad advice. Bergman had to leave the country immediately, and so went to Germany. A few years later he returned to Sweden and made his last film Fanny and Alexander (1982) (A.K.A. 'Fanny and Alexander'). In later life he retired from movie directing, but still wrote scripts for film and T.V. and directed plays at the Swedish Royal Dramatic Theatre for many years. He died peacefully in his sleep on July 30, 2007.

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