Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ingmar Bergman: Persona

Ingmar Bergman's Persona (1966) takes you through a funhouse mirror of person-to-person interaction. Where does one end and the other begin? How many layers of personality and personae are we made of?

In Persona, Elisabet (Liv Ullmann) and Alma (Bibi Andersson) become alternately intertwined and unspooled through a maddening but effective technique: the half-talking cure. One talks and talks and the other remains virtually silent, responding with looks and mostly non-verbal gestures and movements. The result, combined with sections of fast cuts, semi-subliminal images and bursts of wild music and set against a backdrop of changing light and ambience, stuns and makes you wonder.  

Personae shift and shimmer depending on circumstance. A lot of times this has to do with audience. For instance, I'm not going to use profanities in front of undergraduate (or younger) students, whereas in much freer (and therefore very limited) circumstances I swear like a sailor -- and enjoy it.

Life is theatre: keep stage and audience in mind wherever possible. Life is a movie: there are things like flexibility, lighting, presentation and various effects to consider. Choices. Options. Actions. Let's roll it. Alma: "To change oneself. My trouble is laziness." To change yourself, it helps to know yourself; sometimes it's easier to know someone else's contours better than your own. Consider photos and mirror images vs. our interior mutterings and self-conceptions -- there's usually a disconnect there somewhere, or a no-connect, which is probably why it's so exciting when we do connect, or reconnect, or make entirely new connections, with other people as well as with ourselves. 

Today's Rune: Harvest.


Charles Gramlich said...

I like the line that "life is theater." maybe not very good theater, but I can see the point.

the walking man said... you ever zone out ans just watch a movie for entertainment without dissecting it into onion layers? Even I can't think that much.