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Persona

Bibi Andersson , Liv Ullmann , Ingmar Bergman    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 44.29
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Ingmar Bergman's 1966 film, photographed by Sven Nykvist, begins when famous actress Elisabeth Vogler (Liv Ullmann) freezes on stage in the middle of a performance. Struck dumb by an unknown cause, she winds up in the care of young inexperienced nurse Alma (Bibi Andersson), and together they retreat to the seaside for the summer, where they enter into an uncommon intimacy and clash of wills. Bergman's study of the fragility of the human being and the treachery of life is incredibly moving in its perception and unrivaled imagery. And as always with Bergman and his reappearing ensemble of actors, the performances are flawless. Especially notable is the scene in which Alma recounts for the silent Elisabeth a morally and emotionally ambivalent erotic encounter she had experienced on a beach with a friend and two teenage boys. It is one of the most strangely erotic scenes ever filmed, and not a stitch of clothing is removed. Also of interest, and one of the most intriguing scenes in the film, perhaps among the most intriguing in all of cinema, is when Elisabeth paces barefooted back and forth over a patio on which we know there to be broken glass. It is an achievement in simple suspense from which many an aspiring director of thrillers could learn a bit. For those who've had their fill of predictable plots, irrelevant matter, and apish acting and are looking for something a little more sensual, poetic, and relevant to what life is about beyond the daily grind, this may be a good place to start. --James McGrath

Special Features

New, 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray New visual essay on the film’s prologue by Ingmar Bergman scholar Peter Cowie New interviews with actor Liv Ullmann and filmmaker Paul Schrader Excerpted archival interviews with Bergman and actors Bibi Andersson and Ullmann On-set footage, with audio commentary by Bergman historian Birgitta Steene Liv & Ingmar, a 2012 feature documentary directed by Dheeraj Akolkar Trailer New English subtitle translation PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Thomas Elsaesser, an excerpted 1969 interview with Bergman, and an excerpted 1977 conversation with Andersson

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CRITERION version (2014) vs. MGM version (2004) March 22 2014
Format:Blu-ray
Be careful when reading these reviews. Many of the reviews here refer to an earlier, much maligned, MGM 6-DVD box set of Bergman films from 2004 which included "Persona", "Shame", "The Serpent's Egg", "The Passion Of Anna", and "Hour Of The Wolf" (incidentally David Lynch's favourite Bergman film). This Criterion collection version is considered definitive in every respect. This is the one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The stars are given based on the movie itself April 22 2004
Format:DVD
This is one of the two movies, among his 50+, that Ingmar Bergman himself is most proud of; in a recent interview, given before his retirement from the theatre (in January 2004), he said that with "Persona" and "Cries and Whispers" he pulled off something he thought would be beyond his capability, and indeed - to this day both films, and many of his others, keep impressing audiences.
This movie was shot on the island of Fňrö (Bergman's residence for the past 40 years), by cinematographer Sven Nykvist, who had been Bergman's regularly used cinematographer for all his movies since "The Virgin Spring" (1960). "Persona" tells the story of actress Elisabeth (Liv Ullmann), who has chosen muteness, and her nurse Alma (Bibi Andersson), who observes her, keeps her company, and is trying to "cure" her, while they live together in the archipelago during the summer. As always both these actresses do convincing jobs. This was Liv Ullmann's first appearance in a Bergman movie (it lead to a relationship between her and the director), while Bibi Andersson had been reoccurring in Bergman's movies since "Smiles of a Summer Night" (1955).
MGM's presentation is less than professional. They have cropped off 11.5 percentage of the image by presenting the movie in Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 instead of 1.37:1; footage is missing from all four sides, and MGM have announced that they are not going to correct it. Furthermore the quality of the picture is brownish and gray, while the intention was clear black and clear white. This movie is available on a region-free DVD by Tartan, which has less features, but clearer picture, and is presented in Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Osmosis of Identity Sept. 24 2010
By Edmonson TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"Persona" (1966) is a film about many things on many levels. It can be seen an experimental deconstructivist film, or as a film about identity and nothingness, or as a film with any number of other themes. Actress Elisabet Vogler (Liv Ullmann) has a breakdown, and after a short stint in the hospital she is taken care of by Alma (Bibi Andersson) at a remote seaside cottage. Elisabet never speaks to Alma, and so Alma fills the silence with her intimate life stories. After a time it is as if the two woman are gradually becoming one. Alma speaks for, and interprets what Elisabet is thinking. This is a powerful, and thought provoking film, that gradually lays down layers upon layers of images, as it develops this story that becomes something of an unconscious power struggle between, and within, two people, as their identities gradually become reversed over time, as Alma seems like the patient, and Elisabet, the caregiver.

It could also be said that Ingmar Bergman is making a statement about how it is impossible to really know another person, and that we project our ideas and values onto other people. The speechless Elisabet acts like an empty vessel that Alma projects her own ideas and feelings upon. Elisabet is the actor, the blank slate, that changes her personality and character with each role she plays. Perhaps this was also what led her to have her break down. She had lost her sense of self, her identity. Ingmar Bergman reminds us that the film we are watching is a fabrication, a recreation on celluloid, with the initial film clips, and with the fragmenting of the image as the film appears at one point to burn up before resuming the story of the two women.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson are AWESOME!!! July 6 2004
By Joe
Format:DVD
I've never quite been into foreign films, but I decided to check out 'Persona' because it has been associated with one of my favorite films, Robert Altman's '3 Women.' I was frequently told by other film buffs, "If you like '3 Women,' you'll really like 'Persona.'"
They were right, for I was completely blown away by this Bergman masterpiece. 'Persona' is a powerhouse of emotions, and the acting is superb. Liv Ullmann's silence is extremely compelling, for her nonverbal communication conveys a whole lot more than any dialogue could relate! Bibi Andersson's performance is heart-wrenching at times, for her persistance and confusion draws the viewer into her corner like a spider caught in a web.
As far as Ingmar Bergman, I am now a dedicated fan of his films after viewing 'Persona.' There were a few bits during the opening montage that made me wince (beware!), but after seeing the entire film, I can understand why they were there. In addition, the visual look of some of the key scenes are among the most breathtaking I have ever seen in a film, such as the one where Liv almost floats into Bibi's room like a Nordic goddess.
Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in Ingmar Bergman, arthouse cinema or films about the psychology of relationships.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Berman's best
Amazing movie. Haunting meditation with powerful photography.
Published 2 months ago by Freddy
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable, and remarkably challenging puzzle of a film
Originally some the earlier Bergman films were harder for me to get into, because most of the Bergman I saw first was from late in his career
and far more 'naturalistic' -... Read more
Published on April 21 2012 by K. Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars An odd little piece from the Incomparable Ingmar
I enjoy this film very much. It's hard to understand the whole personality-swich thing, more so the disjointed film imagery at the beginning and the end. Read more
Published on Dec 16 2005 by Jesse Dachyshyn
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Film of the 20th Century
This is Ingmar Bergman's greatest achievement as a film director (most of us have not seen his stupendous stage productions and only a few of his "made-for-TV"... Read more
Published on June 20 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best ever made
This is one of the best rated films of all time...and it's definetely justified. It might very well be Bergmans materpiece, and THAT says a lot. Read more
Published on May 23 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars This is For the film, LISTEN....
i know you guys have serious qualms with the DVD itself and not the film, but a passing glance might cause people to think this isn't the brilliant, strangely moving film that it... Read more
Published on May 17 2004 by Brad Stewart
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the edition you'll want
Can a studio present a movie any way they please after they've bought the rights for it? Apparently so. I saw Bergman's masterpiece Persona at the movies a very long time ago. Read more
Published on May 16 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars MGM Persona
depressing...
truely depressing
Worthy of MGMs demise the wretched DVD of a great film, I have waited years for. Read more
Published on May 14 2004 by Null Kiner
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the five Bergman's gems
Bergman begins the film with a shocking image, that constitutes one of the keys to make us drown in this bergmanian ocean. Read more
Published on May 1 2004 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
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