11. “Persona”, Ingmar Bergman (1966)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list

Persona

Persona

dir. Ingmar Bergman scr. Ingmar Bergman cin. Sven Nykvist with Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann

In 100 words: What the fuck is this movie about? And why does it feel like it pierces into my soul? I’ve never seen faces these well-lit, lit in stark contrasts, sometimes with unforgiving lights or gentle caresses. I love Bergman’s avant garde take on the feminine psyche, his sort-of political stance on Vietnam, his understanding of how desirous it is to speak with someone and have someone listen to your thoughts, but also to receive pleasure from hearing someone speak to you their unfiltered lives. It is also a stunning evocation of film, and maybe even its artifice. Andersson and Ullmann spark.

Other Movies for Context: Experimental Bergman is at his loosest, least easily digestible, and most adventurous. Curiously, the film the most fits this is Robert Altman’s loose remake 3 Women (1977), which has the same setup, except more impressionistic than experimental. Mulholland Dr. (2001) by David Lynch feels similarly intriguing with a particularly inscrutable plot.

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