Best Movies Streaming Now #4: Persona

Persona
Sweden, 1966
Written and Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Starring Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann

Available to stream on Hulu Plus

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“It makes me uncomfortable to talk about meanings and things. It’s better not to know so much about what things mean. Because the meaning, it’s a very personal thing and the meaning for me is different than the meaning for somebody else.”

-David Lynch, director of Eraserhead

I won’t try to tell you what this movie means. I won’t even try to tell you what happens. I don’t think I could anyway. All I can do is tell you what it examines–identity, reality, pyschosexuality, obsession, loss, the pain of existence. And those are just the things I observed. But the world has been viewing this movie for 50 years, and I bet people have found plenty more to chew on.

Persona is often ranked in the 10 best movies of all time. Many people consider it to be THE best. Yet nobody seems to be able to really explain it. We can explain parts of it, but it cannot be nailed down as a whole piece, and I think that’s why it will always be remembered, watched, and listed by bloggers like me.

When film-lovers discuss Persona they inevitably end up talking about the power of the imagery above all. Certain moments of the film are burned in our memories. The mysterious boy reaching at the projection of a woman’s face; the melding of the two women’s features as their identities become indistinguishable from one another’s; the mid-film tearing and burning of the screen, breaking the fourth wall and reminding us that this is a film, a creator’s work, a painting of light.

Of course I fail to convey the power of this imagery. Rightfully so, because I want you to watch it and feel the power for yourself. OK, go.

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