I did not know what to expect when Persona started. It had random, erratic scenes that had such weird, vivid imagery. Because of the emotions I felt while watching the beginning – confusion, anxiety, fear – I thought that Persona was actually a horror film. As the film went on, my fear lessened, but the anxiety and the confusion stayed. I was anxious because of the uncertainty the film gave me; confused because it was strange and difficult to understand from the get-go.
The turning point for me – the scene where I thought I kind of understood what was happening (I may be wrong though) – was the scene where Alma reads the unsealed letter Elisabet gave for her to send with her other mail. The letter contained Elisabet writing to her doctor about Alma – how she was studying Alma during their time of isolation. At first, it was ironic. I asked myself, “Shouldn’t it have been the other way around?” Alma was the nurse and Elisabet was the patient. Why was the patient studying the nurse? Then it hit me. Thinking of the title made it easier for me to interpret what the scene may have meant. Perhaps there is a persona between the two of them – I assumed it was Alma. Maybe Elisabet was “studying” her inner thoughts and emotions – Alma in “human” form.
Another scene which solidified my interpretation in my head was when the husband came. When the husband saw Alma, he referred to her as “Elisabet”. Alma was confused at first, but when Elisabet urged her to kiss her husband, she complied. I figured this meant that Elisabet did not have the best relationship with her husband because Elisabet kind of had to encourage (or force) Alma to spend time with her husband. But that’s just me.
Persona made me feel uneasy all throughout the film. The fact that it was black and white did not make it any better. We live in a world today where film is filled with color. Color and lighting are important tools in film – tools that must be used wisely because they set the mood of the entire film. I know that all films used to be black and white back in the day, but coming from the perspective of this generation, the color and the lighting perfectly captured the darkness of the movie. I feel like the effect would be lessened if the film were not in black and white. The colors and the lighting kept an aura of mystery surrounding the film.
This kind of film is not for passive audiences. It entails its viewers to think and interpret the movie themselves. I’m sure many have different interpretations. My own thoughts on the film may not be what the writers intended. If one does not try to understand it, he would not be able to get anything from the film because it is the type of film that does not spoon feed its audiences. Films that make people think should be more appreciated in our world today.