No film buff worth their salt can afford to miss Ingmar Bergman’s masterful Persona, which has just become available for a short time at SBS On Demand.
The influential film is rightly lauded as one of the world’s best, for its visual poetry and its penetrating study of guilt, madness, sexuality, identity and art.
Persona marked a turning point for its director after a chaotic period marred by illness and professional malaise. Bergman commenced writing the film during a hospital stay, “to keep my hand in the creative process”, and it’s easy to see where he found inspiration for the profound psychological study of a performer suddenly silenced.
The surface narrative is of an actress, Elisabeth (Liv Ullman), who has ceased to speak (during a performance, no less) and has retreated to her psychologist’s summer house, under the watchful eye of nurse Alma (Bibi Andersson). Detached from the rest of the world, chatty Alma fills the awkward silences with one-sided conversation, as Elisabeth bears silent witness to all manner of personal disclosures. Over time the friendly dynamic shifts and a subtle exchange occurs that culminates in each woman adopting the traits and tendencies of the other.
Persona is minimalist, mysterious and mesmerising. It’s only available for a short time, so tick it off your bucket list while you can. You'll neither forget nor regret it.
Watch 'Persona' now at SBS On Demand
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson