Persona - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Persona Reviews

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½ May 14, 2018
One of the few films in which interpretation is truly subjective. Personally, I favor the Jungian metaphor of becoming the masks we put on to blend in society, and the inevitable struggle with the subconscious. Regardless, it's hard to deny the long lasting impression this film makes. An extraordinary work of directing, lending, editing and acting, Persona is not only a crowning achievement of experimental cinema, but of all cinema.
½ April 29, 2018
Ingmar Bergman's superb study of (insert your interpretation here).

A nurse at a psychiatric hospital, Alma, is given a new patient. Elisabet Vogler is a famous actress but has suddenly become apathetic, lethargic, mute and prone to fits of laughter at arbitrary, innocuous things. Alma does her best to engage Elisabet and get her to talk but the more Alma opens up to Elisabet, the more she empathises with her and becomes like her.

Written and directed by famed Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, Persona is a superb, mind-bending study on identity and personality. Well, to me it is, mostly. Every time I thought I had the movie figured out, it would take a different tack.

Reading what movie critics and psychologists think it is about, there isn't a single, unifying interpretation. So, if you say you know exactly what it is about - you're either lying or weren't concentrating. Basically, every person will have their own interpretation, dependant largely on their own background and perceptions. Isn't that the definition of art?

And it certainly feels like art. Bergman's cinematography is excellent, the soundtrack adds to the intensity and he uses symbolism extensively, and jarringly (maybe a tad overused - I didn't find it all necessary). Liv Ullman's minimalist performance - she utters only two words during the course of the movie - and the psychological aspects, especially, add to the sense of this being something more than just a movie. Quite profound, even without knowing what the profundities are (!).

I found it difficult to give this a 10, due to not understanding it fully (and believe me, I tried!) and feeling like I could have done with a more complete conclusion. However, as mentioned previously, maybe confusion / uncertain interpretation was Bergman's aim.
February 11, 2018
A very unnerving film. Unique in so many ways. My first Bergman movie to boot. 1001 movies to see before you die.
January 15, 2018
In a time where we are professional advised to code switch with an unbearable amount of personas, ones fragmented self must be reconcile sooner or later. Bergman is truly the Sweden poet of cinema who uses thoughtfully constructed images to deconstruct ourselves and leaves us to render.
½ October 22, 2017
Atmospheric and creepy at times. This movie doesn't shy away from the dark side of things, especially the darker side of humanity.

That part where the girl is watching TV in the hospital. So horrifying. Bergman really created how he felt about what was going on in Vietnam and the whole war.

At times, the movie is very ambiguous and you can't tell whether what your watching is really what the girl is experiencing or if it's all just a dream.

A little bit of a disappointing movie. I thought it was going to be really good, but ended up being this okay "art" film. One-time watch for me.
September 27, 2017
Skillful in camera shots, Persona is arguably one of Ingmar Bergman?s most surreal films made
September 18, 2017
Film historian and professor Thomas Elsaesser once said "...writing about Persona has been for film critics and scholars what climbing Everest is for mountaineers: the ultimate professional challenge." I completely agree with him. Despite being under 90 minutes, this film is probably one of the most complex films I've run into in years. After I finished it, I didn't even know where to start when attempting to analyze it. However, after thinking about it for a little bit, I formed a basic summary for it, and things kept going uphill from there.

A nurse named Alma is put in charge of a mute actress named Elisabet Vogler. She talks to her numerous times without ever receiving an answer. Eventually, the 2 go to a beach house. After living with each other for a little while, the story twists into a bizarre and complex story beyond realism.

Many of the analysis's that I've read argue that either Alma is Elisabet's persona or vice versa. Those are interesting interpretations. However, I think that both women are personas of the boy we see at the beginning and, briefly, at the end of the film. In the movie, we learn that both Alma and Elisabet got pregnant and had an abortion. We also learn that Elisabet's baby survived, and she gave him away to a nanny. I think that that is what happened to the boy. When I was first introduced to him, I got a slight vibe that he's being mistreated at his current home since his bed looked really unappealing. He wasn't given a pillow and he only had one thin bed sheet. He also didn't have much clothes on. I felt like he could've been slightly insecure due to his seemingly poor treatment (this explains some of the seemingly random imagery at the beginning and the middle of the film, although I'm not sure about the film reels).

With that being said, I think that the personas of the 2 women represented the boy's depiction of his mother. He likely has a negative opinion of his mom since she abandoned him and left him in a dull environment. It seems like he's punishing both of the women initially. Elisabet is being punished as he's not allowing her to talk. Alma's initial punishment is a little harder to figure out, but it's possible that the boy finds her having to watch over an insane patient (Elisabet) as a punishment since they become isolated with each other. After Alma tells of how she got pregnant, we can assume that the boy is especially upset at her due to the different things that happen to her. We see that Elisabet is trying to mail Alma's sex story to the public, Elisabet gives her a bloody nose in a fight, and Alma is negatively effected when Elisabet attempts to leave her alone at the beach house (she breaks down crying at one point). This goes on for a little while, but we see the boy change his focus after Elisabet reveals a similar story which seems more plausible since we learn that she was unable to abort her baby. This scene is famously repeated in the film, which could mean that the boy is trying to confirm that it really was her.

Bergman usually nails cinematography really well in his films. Bergman also handled the visual aspect expertly in this movie as well. It is, quite possibly, the most visually impressive of his films. Images of the beach and cleverly lit rooms are beautiful to look at. There are also some scenes which have a somewhat surreal quality to them. The movie is able to use simple camera movements to create these. An early example of this is when Alma is talking to the Doctor near the beginning. The camera is usually pointed at her for most of their conversation, and on the 2nd time she meets with her, the camera is only focused on Alma, and we just hear the doctor's voice. There are several of these shots throughout the film. I also really liked the surreal imagery at the beginning of the film. It made that sequence really memorable, and it informed me of the complicated film that would follow it. Also, on my re-watch, I noticed how the movie constantly focused on hands. There were numerous shots which seemed to draw attention to hands almost like it was a motif. These shots tended to stick out quite a lot. It's possible that those shots were supposed to represent reaching out into the unfathomable depths of someone. This fits in with the scene at the beginning pretty well when the boy reaches out and touches a screen with both women's faces on it. I think that Bergman was sort of giving us a clue as how to go about interpreting his film.

In conclusion, this movie is a masterpiece. It's incredibly complicated with a lot of obscure imagery and set pieces, and it has great visuals as well. It's always great to see a challenging film which requires you to think every now and then. This movie, however, feels incredibly complicated and more so than other complex films that I've seen. I didn't enjoy Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" that much, but this movie was definitely worth my time. I'm going to look into Bergman more in the future.
August 25, 2017
Persona's fascination is found in its ability to convince one that what they understand is how Bergman intended but the fact is although your interpretation may be correct the feeling you have is yours and yours alone. The camera is very intimate with the actresses and it would be a hard movie to watch if the women in the film weren't so attractive. The emotion that is shed is hard to turn away from even if one is horrified from the imagery Bergman uses. But it is that we subconsciously put ourselves in our interpretation which makes it a work of art that is rarely seen in this medium.
August 8, 2017
One of the greatest art films ever.
July 17, 2017
A supercalifragilisticexpialidocious movie with an uncommon concept. A tale of two women whose personas start melding, which is to say, takes a turn out of the blue, subsequently. A groundbreaking endeavor by Ingmar Bergman, which has the potential to serve as a yardstick for world cinema.
July 14, 2017
Persona is one of the films you must see before you can let people call you a film snob in good faith. The cast is small, the set is simple, there's not much action, but the dialogue (really, monologues), carry the day. The sex on the beach monologue is famous, and I was aware of it long before I had seen the movie. It is so vividly told you can picture it like telepathy. Great writing and striking photography.
June 30, 2017
One of my favourite films.
Well, to call it a mere film is an understatement, it is an experience, and despite years having gone by since I last saw it.... the scenes, the images, the conversations remain stark clear in my mind.
The most impactful scenes are where Bibi A. talks to Ullmann's character, one all dressed in white, the other in all black, they're sitting on a table... the emotions, the slow recoil reverberating in one's mind with each important fact being unveiled... hah, unforgettable. But the scene is so clinical, empty of any clutter but that of human emotion!
And the second one is where Bibi details some (shameful to her) events that occurred on the beach. The telling of it is so genuine, the words are like sandpaper.
Also, I stopped trying to make sense of it.
You flow with it, just like life... so many things in life don't make any sense- even on retrospective repeat analysis- one just lives with them. So it is here. But words are mere words.... see it, preferably alone.
½ June 14, 2017
It's like stumbling upon the weird side of Youtube Jeeeez that was messed up, Got a headache from it. Thought-provoking as hell
May 21, 2017
Sure, there are some cool shots and a few interesting sequences, but overall, this is a massive snooze fest. Pretentious as hell.
½ January 30, 2017
With so many possible interpretations, I would keep it to the schizophrenic theory to make it simple. Otherwise it will be a horrifying viewing experience.
December 24, 2016
Difficult to watch and challenging in terms of interpretation, yet a must for Bergman's fans.
November 30, 2016
Too profoundly sad, disturbing, and inscrutably layered to work as a film I'd watch very often. However, stellar performances, stark and haunting imagery, and two of the most fascinating monologues ever make this a film worth dissecting.
November 9, 2016
Ingmar Bergman is one of the most puzzling filmmakers in history, and likewise Persona leaves us puzzled, confused, and a little uneasy. It's a film that's impossible to fully grasp the meaning of, and yet it's incredibly satisfying to simply contemplate its rich cinematography and deeply intertwined characters. It's meant to be felt emotionally, not understood intellectually.
November 9, 2016
Spectacular. It's hard to think of a better Bergman.
September 26, 2016
A psychological horror story of bleakness and exploitation of one and others.
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