At the beginning, the film immediately grabs your attention, opening it with weird sound effects and black and white flashy images. There are creepy, eerie images of pain, flashing on the screen one frame after another like spiders, nailing a person’s palm, and the like, somewhat exploring the egoistic and idiosyncratic nature of art.
It reminds me of an artwork.
The camera angles and cinematography add personality and charisma to the film. The marvelous shots contributed greatly to the overall magnificence of the film. As the audience, I am not entirely sure of the motive of the film. It has a very odd, unusual setting with thrilling music creeping in the background. Not to mention this all began before the title sequence. At first, it will get you thinking if this is actually a horror movie with the weird jumpy music, but as the film goes on, you realize something else is going on, the same way an artwork can turn out differently as you look closer or observe it longer.
Persona is a very experimental film. The more you watch, the more you are engrossed and riveted by it. There is a sense of insanity and psychological horror it aims to portray through the cinematography, music and the unusual behavior of the characters. There were many questions running in our heads while watching it. Why was Elisabet not speaking out of willpower? Was there sexual tension between the two? Elisabet claims to not have visited or spoken the previous night, which was obviously a lie. What was “nothing”? What was happening with their distorted, amalgamated faces? What was this trying to portray? It will leave you asking, “what is going on?”
With the series of events that bring confusion to the audience, the viewer might need a minute or two to process what was absorbed, to find meaning in the occurrences. It is definitely not an easy film to watch. It’s actually quite rattling, leaving you wondering how things are connected, the messages uncovered and what they represent.
The film does not give explanations as to the connection of events or characters, like the boy at the beginning of the film observing the blurry, ill-defined image of a woman. Could that be Elisabet’s son? No explanations are given. It is just for you to figure out on your own. Like many artworks, it’s complex, almost bewildering, which result in varying interpretations from the viewers, but that’s what makes it a masterpiece anyway. It is its ability to capture viewers in different ways, different angles.