Persona (1966) was created by the infamous team of cinematographer, Sven Nykvist and director, Ingmar Bergman, who incorporated their trademark of minimalism into a psychological thriller and modernist horror film. We experience the griming journey in a relationship between a young woman nurse, Sister Alma, her newly assigned patient, Elizabeth, an actress with complete mental and physical stability who all of the sudden became mute.
Sister Alma had to maintain the role as a nurse despite her mental instability and close relationship to Elizabeth, who in return was an actress who had to maintain her role as the mute mentally instable patient. Bergman creates one persona into two separate female characters to emphasize how we think of ourselves in the world is not a direct experience, but mental projections of our ideas, fears, dreams, lusts, memories, societal roles, professional jobs, and other people.
Nykvist’s cinematography completes Bergman’s significant storyline by incorporating dark contrasted shadows and metaphorical scenes of each female character having one face, or the both of their faces combined into one silhouette.
“All the anxiety we carry within us, all our thwarted dreams and inexplicable cruelty, our fear of extinction, the painful insight into our earthly condition have slowly crystallized our hope for otherworldly salvation. The tremendous cry of our faith and doubt against the darkness and the silence is the most terrifying proof of our abandonment and our terrified and unuttered knowledge.” Sister Alma reads a passage from her book to Elizabeth.
director INGMAR BERGMAN
director of photography SVEN NYKVIST
cast LIV ULLMANN, BIBI ANDERSSON, GUNNAR BJÖRNSTRAND and MARGARETHA KROOK
Text by Ellen Grace