Monday, September 9, 2013

Persona (1966)

Today's film is Persona.  At first look, it is not an interesting movie.  But, the real story lies deeper within the film.  Imagine a really ugly cake.  Then, you cut into it and it's a strawberry cake! And you're like, Yay strawberries! (or whatever flavor you like).  That's what this film is like.

Elisabeth is an actress who, one day, stopped talking.  She absolutely refuses to talk.  The doctor says they have run every test possible. She is completely sane, she is just willfully not speaking.  I think that takes a lot of willpower.  Speaking is our main way of communicating and she simply stopped.
I do have some personal experience in this department.  My daughter and co-film critic, Azalea, doesn't speak either.  She can speak, and usually says about one or two words a day, and only when she absolutely has to.  Otherwise, she uses subtle hand signals or elaborate interpretative dances.  It is easy for me to figure out what she wants, but when she is around others she is easily frustrated.
 The doctor tries to figure out what's going on inside her mind, and instead of sending her home, sends her to a nice beach house.  Wait a second.  The doctor sends her to a beach house, with a private nurse to watch over her, even though she's perfectly well?  There's nothing wrong with her. The doctor should have just sent her home, right? Ok, well get this.
get this.

She never left the hospital.  Everything that transpires at and around the beach house is Elisabeth's dream (or imagination).  Alma (which means soul) constantly speaks while Elisabeth stays silent.  I got rather annoyed because Alma just would not shut up.  But it helps to realize that it's just Elisabeth's inner thoughts. (Also, Bibi Andersson, who portrayed Alma did a great job acting) And they are rather unfiltered.  A nurse would never tell such a personal story of sex and an abortion to their patient.  That's unprofessional and not to mention very private.  Soon, Alma finds she is gaining more of Elisabeth's persona.  Well, Alma was part of Elisabeth's persona all along. So, Mr. Vogler, Elisabeth's husband, didn't mistake Alma for her.  In her dream, they are one and the same.  In the end, when the images of their faces merge, we fully realize this.

In the beginning and at the end, we are bombarded by surreal images.  There's a spider, the film goes off the reel and goes everywhere, lots of blood, and finally we see the ugliest boy I have ever seen.  And I wonder, what's with all the surrealism?  He's not 
Luis Buñuel.  The images seemed totally out of place with the rest of the film.  They actually took away from the mindbendingness the film provides and lessens its impact.  Anyway, I will give it a 7/10.

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