Persona: Two Persons Two Faces

 

In the story of Persona (1966), directed by Imgmar Bergman, the details whether the character of Elisabeth Vogler, who experiences a life-changing moment which stops her from socializing and living a normal life, recovers from her own dilemma. Though the focal point of the film narratively should be how Elisabeth recovers with her personal issues, the direction soon shifts the vocal and very empathetic character of Elisabeth’s caretaker or private nurse, Alma. The relationship between patient and nurse shows off the tension of each other’s relationship regarding their own lives, where they find themselves comfortable with one another at times then later on frustrated with even the most trivial things. Through shown as two separate characters in the narrative, the film pushes scenes where their likeness and personalities resemble each other, to even editing their faces side-by-side. Though their character traits and where they came from are different ways, their meeting up show a similarity displayed only in the medium of film. Persona is a play of two women characters and their interaction with one another.

On a literary definition of the word “persona,” it means “the aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others.” I would like to make the distinction in how the passage selects the term, a perceived character by others, when during a majority of the film, these two characters of Alma and Elisabeth spend every waking hour with each other’s company. Some of the more tender and emotional scenes contain their conversations with one another. For example, in the scene where Alma shared her story on the beach, you can see the interest and compatibility they have with one another – listening intently to their stories and feelings. There’s a certain charm and curiosity they have for one another, when Alma shows her respect of Elisabeth as an actor and Elisabeth shows her respect for Alma’s care. Since their seclusion at a cottage, where all they have are themselves, the external pressures of society and their peers don’t come into play when they kept each other’s company. Telling this tell is such an intimate level, there’s this appearance of reality of what the people or persona of Elisabeth and Alma are, especially in how Alma grows a very personal and sincere relationship with Elisabeth. Since Elisabeth’s condition won’t allow her to speak, Alma becomes more open to telling her deepest thoughts and desires with Elisabeth, from her upmost respect for Elisabeth to the naughty tale when she was at the beach with her friend. There’s this certain merging of these characters due to their likenesses and intimacy with another that happens in this character-driven film – and it’s an effective and creative telling of the two characters and their time alone.persona-screenshot-1170x713

Later in the film, one scene that striked me was when Alma had a monologue with Elisabeth, venting her frustrations with her silence and this current situation, then suddenly shows their faces as one. It goes to show how much they know about each other, and the relationship that developed after days spending so much time with one another. Parts of the film show Alma saying that both of them look so similar in shape, hinting to the imagery where their faces would be editing to make up one complete face. The character of both Alma and Elisabeth will be forever affected in their intimate exchanges with one another. It is really unexpected to see their character congregate in this way, but I see and appreciate the director’s choice in putting Alma and Elisabeth onto one face, as it shows the change a person may experience when they encounter a certain person, or when they spend a lot of precious time with that certain person. The film struck at me with a character-study and tells a tale how one would experience a person – showing how transformative people can be to ones own person.

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