Persona:What is happening?

Persona was a very confusing film that left me unsettled and disturbed for some reason. The film carried an atmosphere that belonged to a horror/thriller movie and had moments where you would think “something will go wrong”. This feeling was carried out from the start of the film- from when a boy woke up from a hospital and started viewing scenes of a crucifixion and a lamb being killed – to the near end in where the two main characters, Elisabeth Volger and Alma, were holding each other. The movie was quite unique in this sense that it brought the impression of a horror/thriller even though it was a psychological drama.

Although I felt disturbed from watching the film, I appreciate the directing of Director Ingman Bergman and how he carried out the plot of the film. He was able to hold the atmosphere of suspense throughout the entire movie and made me question the events happening. This helped me have a deep impression of the film and made it stand out from the movies I am used to watching. In addition, he was able to portray the characters in a light which made you empathize with them (although this feeling only lasted at the start), but at the same time make them feel as though they were aliens. Alien in the sense that at times their actions seemed to go against reason and how their intentions seemed unclear, like how Elisabeth decided to remain silent for no apparent reason and how Alma had a sudden change of character in the middle of the film. The fact that their intentions and actions are never really explained didn’t help in my impression of the characters being alien and added to my confusion.

I found it quite ironic though that I became as confused as I was in the end. Before I even watched the film I believed I had the entire plot figured out due to the title almost explaining what the movie was about. In fact, in the near the end of the film it did try to imply that my belief that they were the same person was correct, however, the final scene in which it showed a camera crew filming from outside the house made question myself. Looking back at it, I question whether the movie was a film about a person having split personality, or it was a film about two actresses making a movie, or the events never really happened, and it was a film about a boy watching a film. This is actually one of the biggest criticisms I have with Persona, the fact that there is no proper closure. Rather than answering the questions of the viewer and giving them a clear explanation of what is happening, it leaves you with more questions. It makes wonder whether the intentions of the director was nothing more than to leave his viewers uncomfortable and wondering.

Overall though, Persona was a refreshing movie and allowed me to have a different perspective on how movies should be. It kept me questioning what was happening throughout the film, while at the same time holding me in suspense. It is a memorable film and has set the bar for European film quite high for me.

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