Bibi Andersson & Liv Ullman
Ingmar Bergman was born in 1918 in Uppsala, Sweden. Growing up in dire poverty in the countryside, the Bergmans soon moved to Stockholm where young Ingmar started taking drama lessons. The stage became his calling in his youth. He was soon employed by the Svenski Filmindustri as a screenwriter and later as a director. Over a career spanning six decades, he made more than 60 films and documentaries, both for big and small screen.
His notable films include undisputed classics such as The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), The Virgin Spring (1960), Hour of the Wolf (1960), Cries and Whispers (1972), Fanny and Alexander, and, of course, Persona (1966) among many others. He is also notable for working with a core group of actors throughout his career: Max Von Sydow, Liv Ullman, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Björnstand, and Harriet Andersson.
Winner of countless awards over the years, he remains one of the giants of world cinema.
He died in 2007.
Seen as the beginning of Bergman's modernist period, Persona is perhaps his best known film, alongside The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries (both 1957). From the challenging opening scenes where the viewer is bombarded by still images accompanied by a thumping soundtrack, Persona is an attack on the senses and the mind. Its esoteric themes and unconventional plot have alienated many over the years, but it is a timeless and an infinitely rewarding film.
A proto-horror as well as an erotic fantasy, Persona's main themes are the mind's struggle between 'being' and 'seeming'. While 'being' is associated with speech from a Jungian perspective, 'seeming' is associated with observation. The two female leads, Nurse Alma (Andersson) and Mrs. Vogler (Ullman) respectively assume these roles. However, what separates them is little and soon the line is crossed indefinitely. Whiel blurring the border between two entities with different manifestations of reality, Persona questions the definition of existence - and in essence, truth.
Persona's influence can still be seen in today's filmmakers, most notably in the now-defunct Dogme'95 movement. Scenes from the film have been riffed by films over the years. For example, the famous 'exchange' scene has been re-interpreted in Carlos Saura's 1976 film Cría cuervos by a dying mother and her daydreaming young daughter.
1st May 2013, @19:30. With an introduction by Frank Gado, author of "The Passion of Ingmar Bergman".