Persona - Trevor Leach Professor Ulrich Personas Illusions...

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Trevor Leach Professor Ulrich Persona’s Illusions Ingmar Bergman’s film Persona (1966) relates the illusion that is film-making to the illusion that is our perception of ourselves. Persona has such an inexplicable quality to it that it is futile to try to pin the meaning behind every scene, there are, however, many prevailing themes throughout the film. The film begins with a light that slowly fades into view until becoming so bright until it bursts into a montage filled with many seemingly un-related metaphorical visuals flashing violently across the screen. Although you could delve into what all these mean, I think the more important thing to take away from this sequence is the attention Irgman Bergman draws to the actual mechanical production of films. He brings to the front the fact that this is an engineered, constructed film, instead of trying to hide that aspect like most films do. You could interpret the beginning as a brief recap through film history up until the time this was filmed. As you see scrolling film rolls cross-cut with what is presumed to be on the said film strips, you see the evolution through time from basic frames and early silent films and animations, it continues to advance until it is seemingly up to date with the time the film was made. The opening sequence suggests that "Persona" is starting at the beginning, with the birth of cinema.” (Ebert) says Roger Ebert in his own analysis of Persona. It switches to showing various religiously powerful scenes such as hands getting nails struck through them like the crucifixion in Christianity and a goat with a slit neck with blood pouring from it, a significant image in Islam. Various random images appear, a series of extreme close-ups of people laying down, either
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asleep, or dead in a morgue. This points out the voyeuristic fashion that all films exist in, it is an inherently voyeuristic media and in this case we are looking close into a person, breaking down what constitutes a person. The close ups give an uncomfortable look into these people, we feel as we are peering at them at a very vulnerable time. At one point you see a brick wall superimposed over a forest. This all adds to the idea that Ingmar Bergman is trying to draw attention to the man-made nature of films. Finally, at the end of the intro montage, a scene with a young boy perfectly encapsulates the ideas of voyeurism and the attention drawn paid to the mode of media that persists throughout the film. There is a young boy that we observe laying down until he is drawn to something off screen. We finally see the first glimpses of the two main characters in this scene as the boy reaches out towards the camera, almost as if out to the audience. It is then revealed that the boy is reaching out to a wall that has the face of both the characters Alma and Elisabet, their faces start to fade back and forth between each-other before being split down the middle with both of their faces being shown as one. This is foreshadowing the connection between
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  • Fall '08
  • Staff
  • Persona Analysis Essay, Silent film, Alma, Ingmar Bergman, Elisabet

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