Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video that contextualizes the importance of ‘Persona’ in the career of Ingmar Bergman.
Cinema in the 1960s was a rug pull. A combination of factors, chiefly counterculture movements and post-war disillusionment, prompted filmmakers to push against convention. The result was an international movement that began to experiment with the accepted rules of cinematic grammar.
Reckoning with the economic and moral upheaval of World War II, Italian Neorealists filmed on-location and foregrounded non-professional actors. French New Wave directors like Jean-Luc Godard and Éric Rohmer intentionally pushed against expectations of invisible filmmaking. And in Hollywood, Westerns began to criticize their own narratives of hero-worship and pivot to a morally ambiguous territory.
And then there’s Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman, whose own shift would take the shape of 1966’s Persona, a film that is at once confounding and one of Bergman’s most intimate projects. The film follows two women, a young nurse named Alma (Bibi Andersson) and Elizabet (Liv Ullmann), the mute actress in her care. As the pair spend more and more time together, the line between the genuine and the affected begins to blur and their personalities begin to collapse.
As the video essay below details, before Persona, Bergman was primarily known for weighty existential dramas that generally adhered to traditional storytelling techniques. Like many of its boundary-pushing peers, Persona intentionally draws attention to the art of filmmaking itself. The result is a dichotomous and ultimately uncanny viewing experience; a naturalism, fractured by the artificiality of cinema.
Watch “Persona | Ingmar Bergman’s Psychological Breakthrough”:
Who made this?
This video essay comes courtesy of The Discarded Image, a video series created by Julian Palmer that deconstructs film. The series began with a deconstruction of how Steven Spielberg creates suspense with the beach scene in Jaws. It has steadily grown from there. You can check out The Discarded Image’s video essays here.
More Videos Like This
- For another sample of The Discarded Image’s work, here’s a video essay about the depth of Clarice Starling as such a compelling character in The Silence of the Lambs.
- The Criterion Collection has a video essay on why Bergman’s films feel so dreamlike.
- Here’s Queue favorite The Cinema Cartography on how Persona tackles the hopeless, dreamy, and often unreliable experience of consciousness.
- And here’s Cinema Beyond Entertainment with a look at why Persona is a masterful inversion of “show, don’t tell.”
- Here’s a quick side by side comparing the visual similarities between Bergman and Andrei Tarkovsky.
- For the Toronto International Film Festival, here’s director Olivier Assayas introducing Bergman’s “absurdly important” Persona.