Persona

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Muriels HOF
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persona.jpg

(1966, directed by Ingmar Bergman)

- inducted 2017 –

“If we're lucky, we have experienced films that we somehow missed the first time and then they came back for us. Perhaps we weren't as film literate as we needed to be at the time. Perhaps we hadn't gone through the event in our lives yet that made a film resonate for us later. Perhaps we were fighting it because we had preconceived notions. Ingmar Bergman's Persona (1966) is one of those for me. I wasn't ready the first time and I think that's because I was overcomplicating it. I wasn't content to let it be what it was. I was in my infancy as a Bergman fan at the time. I had only encountered The Seventh Seal and Smiles of a Summer Night by then and I was left scratching my underdeveloped head. Where was the ponderousness? Where was the mannered comedy? Where was the distance? I wasn't ready to be this close to a Bergman subject. Then, upon returning to it years later, I realized the trick: I had to fall in love.

“And when I say ‘realized,’ I only mean after the fact. To say I knew that was the approach that was going to crack this film open for me would be giving myself too much credit. I had to surrender to it and not overthink it. I had to do what Bergman did. I fell in love with Liv Ullmann (not difficult). I fell in love with Bibi Andersson (also not difficult). I specifically fell in love with the two of them together. I regarded their merging, their transference as something I was privileged to witness, not as a puzzle to work out, and that's what opened it up for me. It's remarkable that the film continues to give so much, some fifty years down the road and it's this capacity for rebirth, for reconstitution, that makes this an easy choice for any hall of fame for me. Any number of established classics are good, even great, films to watch and re-watch, but how many of them possess this ability to turn themselves and the viewer inside out every time? How many can show you something new, no matter how many times you come back to them? There aren't many that can do that for me, but this is certainly at the top of that list. Bergman may never have equaled this again. Ullmann and Andersson are certainly uniquely electrifying. I am just glad they came back for me. That version of me that didn't get it? I wouldn't trade places with that guy for anything.”

~ Cole Roulain

Principal cast: Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Margaretha Krook, Gunnar Björnstrand, Jörgen Lindström (uncredited) Story and screenplay by Ingmar Bergman
Produced by Ingmar Bergman
Director of photography Sven Nykvist
Production design by Bibi Lindström
Costume design by Mago
Film editing by Ulla Ryghe
Original music by Lars Johan Werle
Makeup artist Börje Lundh
Sound by Lennart Engholm, P.O. Pettersson

Sweden
Duration: 84 minutes
Languages: Swedish
Filmed in black and white
Sound mix: AGA Sound System
Aspect ratio: 1.37:1
Printed film format: 35mm

Produced by Svensk Filmindustri
Released in USA by United Artists Corporation
Premiered in Stockholm, Sweden on October 18, 1966
USA release date: March 16, 1967

Awards and honors:
- Selected as one of Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies,” January 7, 2001
- BAFTA Film Awards, 1968: Best Foreign Actress – Bibi Andersson (nominee)
- National Board of Review, 1967: one of the Top Foreign Films of the Year