Mon. May 27th, 2024


Bergman’s Persona opens its narrative with a prologue, showing a boy lying in a hospital bed. He closed the book he was reading and sat, holding out his hand towards the camera. The shot turns around, revealing that it is a translucent surface. In the shot, the face of a woman appears. A close-up view of a woman’s face is projected onto the surface, tentatively touching a boy. It visualizes cinema as a meta-narrative, a window where it blends and separates at the same time.

It invites a touch from the audience, like the boy. The isolation in anticipation of uncertainty becomes even greater. The audience gets too close to be able to recognize the face, trying to grasp it until it represents an archetypal image. Immediately, virtual but tactile, the audience cannot penetrate the screen. In an interpretation, it shows a longing for a son with his mother. There is physical fusion but no direct contact between the screen and either character.

Therefore, it bridges the gap between the two realms of reality psychologically. The film can act as a figure of escape, trying to demand the release of the main object. However, love can be self-centered in a boy until identity demands a separation of bodies.

The Invisibility

The image between the audience and, finally, the boy’s initial movement toward the fourth wall apart from being invisible. It requires the audience to feel directly involved in the longing. However, on the other hand, it experienced a farewell in the first place. The sequence engages the audience to stay true to its virtual reality. Like every character in a work of fiction, the audience is ready to give a realistic perspective.

Therefore, through such actions, it activates empathy, intelligence, and human touch behind the physical work. Thanks to an initial shot as its emblem, the audience instantly recognized what the narrative in Persona was like. It defines the image of the film, representing the idea of cinema in different metaphors. However, it still complements the definition of cinema as an aisle or a window.

The audience may touch or nearly enter into the prism’s reflection, returning a projection above. The film is also a cinema about cinema, which Bergman explains with a prologue montage sequence. It is one of the reasons why it has become the most challenging subject for writers, critics, and philosophers. Talking about the study and theory of film, cinema, especially in Europe in the 60s, was influenced by modernist reflections in visual arts and oral literature.

The Mirror’s Allegory

European cinema always focuses on the theme of existence and the allegory of the mirror. In such a case, the study tries to catch up with the practice of European art. Referring to other films, the fact that the audience is watching the film becomes an important element in the cinema arsenal. For example, many young artists from new waves such as France and Italy set the precedent for Persona.

The mirror construction attempts to block out such a section by connecting the audience to the screen so that it becomes more complicated. When it comes to real, internal, subjective, or hallucinations, Persona is almost always the case in a text enjoying superficial confusion. While Hollywood makes sure its audience can forget such realism through a window or metaphorical style, the film tries to create a debate about Alma and Elisabet as one person.

However, the relevance of treating the film as a two-way relationship between myth and realism constitutes a paradoxical contact. Of course, the film acts as a touchable window into an iconoclastic image. In another look at the camera, it acts as a mirror, as Alma and Elisabet face each other in every sequence. Both characters are a blur between day and night, where they both find or just imagine each other.

The Superimposed Frame

Miraculously, the resemblance between the two characters is revealed, and they move in one frame as if trying to kiss. The faces of both characters become superimposed in anticipation of the shot and the split-screen image of the two women. Both combine faces, while the audience continues to wonder why they stare directly at the audience as if they are aware of the existence of each character.

The dramatic development of the inner movement between Alma and Elisabet is very memorable. However, it does not only serve as an embodiment of self-discovery. It also plays a character in the film itself. Narrative reversal and multiplication blend perfectly in harmonious images, full of delicacy but beautiful enough to leave room for extraordinary violence. Both physically and emotionally, the trait is unsettling.

Therefore, the relationship between the two characters is not only about denial and encounters. Alma’s sensitivity to emotional outbursts embodies a vision on the screen. Self-doubt and inner logic play the role of fear, like the mirror shattering again and again. In such a case, Bergman not only raises the basic tension between audience perception and awareness; the audience’s separate way of perceiving the world in the film allows the film’s point of view to follow the actions of each character.

The Hypnotic Trust of Characters

Persona is willing to expose itself to emotional signals, conflict with each other, and violent interactions. Simply put, Alma and Elisabet become substitutes for the audience in sorting out such complicated feelings, becoming intense before the audience realizes that the film is trying to investigate the audience itself. Yet, Bergman keeps the audience at a specific distance from being able to guess.

The appeal of the film is hypnotic, pulling the audience in so they never let it go. In other cases, the film screen can become a portal before turning into a reflection in a mirror. Finally, the mirror becomes the main styling motif, constantly shifting between other modes. It takes the audience into the cinematic space in turn, as well as the characters. In defining a distant relationship in terms of psychological and emotional trauma, Alma and Elisabet are younger but kind.

Elisabet was not just unwilling or unable to speak. However, she is in the care of a box in a remote island country cottage. The rapprochement between the two characters creates a moment of promise and the intimacy of mutual trust. However, it leads to an escalation of open conflict and tension. The fluctuating relationship becomes a blurring of identity between the two characters in a mirror shot, just like in the first sequence.

The Art of Human Body

In a reading, Persona, or even most of Bergman’s films, always refers to the art of the human body, not just its mere existence. Such connections are often everywhere. In general, such movements become another motive for the filmography of the director himself. Bergman is also in a generation where corporal punishment of children is still the norm. It is why Haneke’s films, such as Funny Games, The Piano Teacher, and The White Ribbon are just a few examples of the touching mimicry of Bergman himself.

Such an influence raises a bit of movement about why gesture or body movement is the most important perspective tool in cinema. Taken together, Bergman’s titles reflect on why expressionism and reflection are the gaze-catching effects of everyday life. Watching Persona can be a draining experience. It’s looking for favor with interesting results. When it comes to helping, Bergman plays the attraction of the outcome by playing other variations.

For example, Elisabet’s face is always facing the camera. It gets dark, but her expression is always appropriate, considering her reflective nature is calm and she never speaks. On the other hand, Alma is always restless, and impulsive but temperamental. The relationship between the two characters is important to how the audience influences their actions.

The Experimentalism of Combined Image

Once again, Persona defines experimentalism as touch. However, a sense of doubt or insecurity contradicts the affirmation in the character of day and night. If Bergman ignores a scientific study simply because it is irrelevant to his film, then there is no doubt that an extraordinary power is hidden in the face of his actress. Such strength may underline his precarious status or vulnerability, either the visible or the untouchable.

Persona went through a permutation after the prologue, lightly contoured on-screen, contrasting the dark silhouetted faces between the characters. In a specific sequence, Alma becomes desperate, distinguishing herself from Elisabet. She washed her face under the tap, running while washing away a nosebleed. Once again, Elisabet’s husband, in another interpretation, is just an imagination.

It reveals how the distance between Elisabet and Alma was identified with each other, especially Alma. Explosions of despair protesting too much simultaneously contradict each other. The combined image of the characters joins the face, making it difficult to distinguish who takes or switches to another role again. Such an exchange of masks becomes the self-reflexivity of modernist films.

It insists on keeping in mind that the audience is watching a movie. In the early sequences of the film, it brings back a projector into another image.

No Exchange, No Equality

The relevance brings the audience back into Persona‘s ending, showing the crew and camera appearing in an off-film shot. The propping of the camera into the frame as Elisabet lies naked, reenacts the boy in the first sequence. He touched the blurry screen image, gesturing to exit the film projector. The arc lights continued to gradually dim, leaving the audience in literal darkness. Masks still play an important role on stage.

In a sense, it becomes a problem because both women are, at some point, emotionally naked. Both lost their composure, as well as the character of the actress. Alma’s face never had the stiffness the film introduced at the beginning. Elisabet’s forced silence, yet wildness unleashes the drama of closed and open expressions at the same time. Yet, will Persona become a film about what lies behind the mask?

On the other hand, is Bergman also trying to show how both women cleverly shape each other? From a Hollywood point of view, the film can serve as a story about the absorption of parts of another personality. There is no exchange and no equality. Meeting by chance, both women could be in a fierce power struggle. Life is on Alma’s side as the film progresses. However, the balance of power between the two women often fluctuates.


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