One of the most talked-about films of all time is Ingmar Bergman's psychological masterpiece Persona. Film criticism aficionados salivate whenever this movie comes up because it contains so many layers.

So how did it come to be? 

After seeing the innovations of the 60s from French New Wave filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, as well as Italians like Michelangelo Antonioni and Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman borrowed their radical cinematic language for his own purposes. He questioned social morals, deep feelings, and ushered in a new era of cinema. 

Let's dig into it together. 

Check out this video from The Discarded Image and let's talk after the jump. 

How was Persona a Breakthrough for Ingmar Bergman? 

Bergman was an existentialist who was consumed with the silence of God and fate. He made weighty movies that were rooted in old-fashioned storytelling. But as he watched movies from around the world, they rubbed off on him. 

He wanted to resist the urge to do more of the same, and instead, challenged himself to tell something more surreal. 

Enter Persona, the tragic story of an actress who cannot separate herself from her roles. She's part of the artificial reality of filmmaking and the wonder of whether or not she means anything outside of the fake story she inhabits. This causes a mental breakdown. 

Things get weirder from there

It's a wonderful movie that asks us to determine what is real and what is just all in our heads. Our actress gets a nurse, and they begin to become one person, not two. 

The movie centers on creating a dichotomy, which is fitting because the movie's central theme is duality. We see two people dealing with their primal/sexual desires and those of the spiritual world.  

Bergman accentuates this by only shooting one side of each woman's face, then merging them in some close-ups to confuse the audience and challenge us to try to tell the difference between these two people. 

Bergman took the lessons he saw in other directors and remade them with his own passion and vision. As filmmakers, we have to be able to synthesize what others have already done, but it shouldn't deter us from trying this stuff ourselves. If we have a voice, we can put our spin on the stories and create something personal. 

That's sort of the moral at the end of the film, anyway—what I have I share with others, but what's inside me is also new, because it's from me, no matter how similar I am to someone else. 

These deep ideas are debated over and over in film buff circles, and I want to know what you think in the comments. 

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Source: The Discarded Image