Persona

I went out to work and had conversations about Black Friday and processed food. I looked to see if the Ghost and Mrs. Muir television series was available on DVD. After I returned home, I watched the Bergman film “Persona” in its Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition. The running time was only 83 minutes, but it felt like there was a lot to absorb in that amount of time. The opening montage had an image of a penis, which I wished I hadn’t seen, but also a crucifixion, a tarantula, and the slaughter of a lamb. Bibi Andersson is the young nurse Alma, and Liv Ullmann is the actress Elisabet Vogler. Elisabet is apparently healthy, but has ceased to speak, and the two go to a cottage by the beach. Alma talks constantly while Elisabet silently listens. Alma talked about one of her sexual experiences at length, and I had to wonder why she would spill out all these thoughts to someone she didn’t really know. My thought was that someone like Alma would be brief in expressing her thoughts rather than giving a detailed account that could have appeared in a magazine. Bergman would repeat the image of broken glass in “Cries and Whispers” to even stronger effect than in this film. That was another of his ideas I wished he hadn’t shared with us. I couldn’t tell what the boiling water was in the stove for other than for drama. It brought to my mind the tragic incident involving Al Green, and I also remember a similar image from “Papillon.” One of the unsettling parts of the film is the monologue that is repeated for a second time. It used to make me very nervous as a child when I would listen to a broken record, which is what the scene reminded me of. The split-screen image of the faces of Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann was impressive. Elisabet speaks only fourteen words in the entire film. Gunnar Björnstrand is a familiar face from Bergman films, and he makes a brief appearance on the screen as Mr. Vogler. The two women are living in a world that is distant from the horrors of events like the Vietnam War. The translation of the dialogue seemed different from what I recall from years ago. Is “Persona” one of the greatest films of all time? I think it’s a good film, but I wouldn’t rate it that high. I’ve always liked “The Seventh Seal” and “Wild Strawberries” as far as Bergman’s work before “Cries and Whispers” went. Liv Ullmann was great in later Bergman films, and she should have been in “Fanny and Alexander.” She is 76 years old now. I miss those days when I would see her on the screen. I did see her in “Saraband.” Besides Bergman movies, Bibi Andersson appeared in “Duel at Diablo,” “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden,” and “Babette’s Feast.” She suffered a stroke in 2009. She is 80 years old. Bergman had hip surgery in October 2006, and he died in his sleep at age 89 on July 30, 2007. After I awoke this morning, I watched a news report that said that the second verse of “You’re So Vain” was about Warren Beatty. I felt that I didn’t need to know that. I looked at some reviews of the new Adele album, and now I’m not quite so excited about listening to it tomorrow. Are people getting ready to go out to see the new Hunger Games movie tomorrow? I’m not that eager to see it. I’m feeling that I’ve had enough of Jennifer Lawrence. Some of the people who died on November 19 include Franz Schubert (1828), Joe Hill (1915), Alan J. Pakula (1998), Dick Wilson (2007), and John Neville (2011). Today is a birthday for Jodie Foster (53), Meg Ryan (54), Allison Janney (56), Calvin Klein (73), and Larry King (82). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment on November 19, the animated television series “Rocky and His Friends” made its debut on ABC at 5:30 pm in 1959. In 1990, Milli Vanilli was stripped of their Grammy for Best New Artist. In 1993, the sequel “Addams Family Values,” starring Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, and Christina Ricci, was released.

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