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Editorial Reviews

Made in 1966, Persona is among Ingmar Bergman's greatest, most vital movies, made during a difficult period in his life (Bergman's life is one short on easy times), having been hospitalised following a viral infection. It was while laid up that he conceived the notion of Persona, in which a famous actress, Elisabet (Liv Ullmann) suddenly lapses into a muteness from which, though mentally and physically healthy, she refuses to emerge. She is attended to by a young, naive nurse, Alma (Bibi Andersson) who develops an obsession, bordering on infatuation with her silent charge. She finds herself jabbering all of her innermost secrets to her and, little by little, through dream sequences, repeated dialogue and trick photography, it's as if the consciousnesses of the two women have actually merged. However, the relationship between Alma and Elisabet dominates the movie. Some confounded critics wondered if theirs was a lesbian relationship. Actually, Persona is an occasionally cryptic but overwhelmingly powerful meditation on the parasitic interaction between Art and Life, the way the former feeds off the latter (Alma is distraught to discover a letter at one point which suggests Elisabet has been coolly observing her, as if for material). However, as an early scene featuring TV footage of a Vietnamese Buddhist monk torching himself as a protest against the war, it's also about the helpless incapacity of art to "say" anything in the face of grim reality. A small film budget-wise, but a colossal event in world cinema. --David Stubbs Product Description Study of womanhood and identity, featuring two of Ingmar Bergman's greatest leading ladies, Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson.


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